Autumn sees debts rise

Barclays has seen its farming clients’ indebtedness rise sharply over the autumn at a time of year when lending has traditionally fallen as EU subsidy cheques arrived.

Figures from the bank show how the wait for the single farm payment has catapulted thousands of farmers deeper into the red.

Lending to beef and sheep producers at the end of October was 19% higher than at the same time a year before, after the demise of the sheep and beef payments.

And arable farmers were even harder hit by the absence of the Arable Area Aid Payment.

The bank reported lending had risen 21% higher at the end of November than it was in 2004.

Agricultural policy director, Euryn Jones, said: “This shows the direct impact of the SFP.”

The cost of the extra credit could top 25m if farmers received their support cheques in March, he added, or as much as 38m if only half is paid then with the balance in June.

The Bank of England reported that agricultural lending had already risen 6% during the third quarter to break through the 9.1bn barrier, a figure that has risen further still in the past three months.

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