Farm borrowing up again in 2017

Farm borrowing has risen to a new record for December, up £481m on the year to stand at almost £18.3bn by the end of last month.

This marks a 2.7% rise on the December 2016 level, with farmers using 72% of the facilities available to them, the same level as a year earlier.

The December 2017 figure marked a fall of £363m on borrowing levels in the previous month. A drop is traditionally seen in December as BPS payments are credited to farm bank accounts.

See also: FW Award winners share their farm plans for 2018

However November to December 2016 saw a larger fall, with a £396m drop at that stage.

According to the NFU’s recently released banking survey results, the overall average proportion of existing finance used for cashflow purposes is 34%. Between sectors, this ranges from 27% in horticulture to 38% in the dairy sector.

The average proportion of borrowing used for investment purposes is 66%.

The survey also showed that 62% of farmers felt that in 2018 their bank would be supportive of future borrowing. This is the lowest level recorded in the NFU’s annual survey and compares with 66% in 2016 and 76% in 2015.

However 19% felt their bank would be unsupportive, the highest level recorded and compared with 16% in 2016 and 13% in 2015.

NFU economist Anand Dossa expects lending to agriculture to rise again this year, suggesting that total bank debt would reach £19.3bn in 2018.

Take part in our borrowing poll below.