Farmers blame market uncertainty for lack of growth

The number of farmers who say market uncertainty has prevented them from investing has increased sharply in the past six months.

Survey figures show that almost a third (31%) of businesses blamed the questionable outlook as the biggest reason for a lack of investment.

The survey of 1,200 farmers carried out in October by YouGov for lenders Hitachi Capital Business Finance (HCBF) and compares with a figure of just 19% citing the same reason in May this year.

See also: Election 2019: What the main political parties plan for farming

The results also revealed that 78% of farmers felt external factors beyond their control hampered the development of their businesses.

HCBF director Gavin Wraith-Carter explained: “We wanted to uncover which issues are proving to be the big obstacles to growth and to see which, if any, are having a bigger impact now in the run-up to Christmas compared to the summertime.

“As expected, the picture is very different. Market uncertainty continues to be a barrier to growth for small business leaders in the agricultural sector, along with volatile cash flow, which is often a reflection of an uncertain market.”

Barriers to growth  (change in percentage of farmers citing reasons for lack of growth May-October)

  May October
Market uncertainty 19% 31%
Volatile cash flow 7% 28%
Unpredictable / extreme weather 41% 28%
Red tape 35% 32%
Value of sterling 8% 13%
Lack of understanding from lenders 5% 11%
Having old/ out of date equipment 18% 10%
Crime / theft 3% 9%