Farmers need a long-term government investment in proven technologies like biofuels, not research into future technologies like electric cars and algae biofuels, the NFU has said.

Jonathan Scurlock, NFU chief renewables adviser, said farmers needed a commitment to give them the security to put crops of biofuels in the ground.

Instead media badmouthing of biofuels, such of accusations of pushing up food prices, had turned people against the technology, he said.

Because of this, the government has instead focused research investment into new environmental technologies, giving the car industry £100m to develop electric cars and crop scientists up to £26m to trial algae biofuels.

But Mr Scurlock accused “unscrupulous” companies of misleading government investors.

“There is no way they can develop a commercial electric car by 2020, as is planned. We don’t have the technology.

“Algae biofuels are even less saleable. They need miles of land and greenhouses to grow and currently retail at $800 a barrel.

“We need to spend money on technologies that are already working, such as hybrid cars running on wheat and sugar beet biofuel blends.”