Shadow agriculture minister Jim Paice has called for banks to offer a three-month loan repayment “holiday” to those farmers affected by foot and mouth.

“The double whammy of flooding and foot and mouth will hit an industry already on its knees,” he said.

Steve Ellwood, HSBC’s  head of  agricultures, said he understood the need for banks to supportive and flexible.

Barclays’ Martin Redfearn said the bank would be offering a six-month repayment break on existing loans.

New loans and extended overdrafts would be available to cover essential feed supplies and planned livestock sales that had not yet been made, he added.

“Barclays is absolutely committed to support its customers through this difficult time.”

Keep up to date with the latest on the foot and mouth outbreak with our special report.