Spiralling production costs have adversely affected farmers’ mental health, NFU survey shows

Soaring costs of production, as a result of the global turmoil of the past 18 months, has contributed to the poor mental health of farmers and food producers, according to a recent survey by the NFU.

Over 68 per cent of those NFU farmers questioned said that spiralling input costs – the cost of energy, fuel and fertiliser – has had a negative impact on their mental health.

This new data, collected from 650 member questionnaires, also found that 61 per cent of farmers felt unfairness in the supply chain has negatively impacted their mental health, and almost 50 per cent said rural crime is affecting their wellbeing. 

The NFU published the data today (6 June) ahead of a parliamentary event convened to kickstart the conversation about making the mental health of the nation’s food producers a priority. MPs will have the opportunity to speak to and learn from farming charities and campaigners, helping farmers out in the field day-to-day, and farmers with their own mental health experiences.

NFU vice president David Exwood said: “Working in the farming industry is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. We produce high-quality, climate-friendly food for the nation while shaping some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. But as has been shown by our distressing survey results, the pressures are incredibly challenging too.

“Our survey pinpoints some of the root causes affecting rural mental health – economic and political uncertainty - and we are calling on government to continue taking steps to address these issues to reduce the stress farmers are facing. This is backed up by a recent report from the Efra Select Committee which called for greater joined-up rural mental health planning and action from government, and we agree with these calls.

“While we are starting to see a culture change within our sector, where talking about mental health is becoming more and more accepted, there are still too many farmers and growers simply ignoring the signs and struggling on in silence. I hope today’s event shows there is support out there as we mark the start of an important conversation.”