Banks urge farmers to talk to them as pressure on cash flows mounts

Banks are urging farmers not to suffer in silence and talk to their lenders about pressures on borrowings and cash flows caused by the foot-and-mouth outbreaks.

August figures from the Bank of England show farm borrowings reached an all-time high of £9.7bn, 4% higher than the same time last year.

Many livestock producers are facing a double blow as cash flows are hit hard by the loss of income from cancelled sales fixtures coupled with the prospect of higher feed costs this winter.

Euryn Jones, agricultural policy director at Barclays, said: “We’re well aware of the implications particularly for upland livestock farmers. The direct-to-slaughter movement rules will have relieved some pressure but there are serious implications for breeding stock not just now but into next year as well.

“It sounds like a stock line but it’s really important but it’s really important people talk to their banks to help them manage this, whether it’s through temporary extensions to overdrafts or repayment holidays on loans.

Banks were also aware that some tenant farmers could struggle to meet Michaelmas rent payments, he added.

HSBC agriculture director Martin Coward said: “talk to your bank manager – don’t let things build up. There will be some major cash flow issues for some sector, particularly pig producers and upland livestock breeders who have relied on the autumn sales – potentially a whole year’s income could be at risk.

The impact of the foot-and-mouth movement ban would be compounded by extra feed costs, he added. “Weaner pigs and other stock that would have left farms will still have to be fed.”

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