Andrew Naylor

Despite continued market volatility and a predicted fall in incomes for 2014-15, the poultry sector is looked upon very favourably by the banking industry

Addressing the recent South West Chicken Association conference near Bristol, Andrew Naylor, head of Lloyds Bank Agriculture, praised the sector’s “progressive and innovative approach”.

While the troubles of the dairy industry created many headlines over the 2014-15 financial year, Defra’s farm business survey forecast that incomes on specialist poultry units will fall by almost the same amount – 12% in real terms compared with 13% in dairy.

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“Despite this, the poultry industry has not stood still,” he said.

“We’ve seen continued investment in production capacity, and the uptake of new technologies has been remarkable, especially in biomass heating, solar technology, anaerobic digestion and waste reusage and recycling.

“This all signifies the kind of vibrant and forward-thinking industry that we in the banking industry want to support. There’s no doubt the future is bright for poultry.”

Speaking more broadly about the economy, he said recovery was well established across the UK, although there were continuing risks related to the uncertainty in the eurozone and austerity measures implemented in various countries.

“UK GDP growth is expected to be little changed this year from last at 2.6%. 

“Given the weakness of inflation and geopolitical uncertainty, the Bank of England may not be in a hurry to raise interest rates.

“However, if these risks subside, its rhetoric could change quickly.

“That’s why it’s important to have a robust business plan and the right balance of long-term loan, short-term borrowing, hire purchase and overdraft facilities to fit your ambitions.”

Mr Naylor also warned poultry producers against the risk from fraudsters. “They are very sophisticated and they understand the farming year,” he said.

“They will target you when you are at your busiest and your defences are down.”

Producers should beware of fraudsters phoning up, pretending to be your bank and asking for access codes and PINs.

“If you think you are being asked for them by your bank – you’re not talking to your bank.”