Record rise in bank lending to farmers

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As farmers across the country draw harvest to a close, new industry-wide figures published by the BBA show that bank lending to farms and other agricultural businesses increased by £1.5 billion last year – the largest rise since records began nearly 20 years ago.

New data from the BBA’s Annual Statistical Abstract shows that high street banks provided loans and overdrafts totalling £13.9 billion to agricultural, hunting and forestry businesses in 2015 – a 12 per cent increase on the £12.4 billion total in 2014. Total lending to these businesses in 2015 was at the highest level on record.

The amount lent by major retail banks to agricultural businesses in the East Midlands expanded most quickly, increasing by almost a third (32.8 per cent) to the end of February 2015. Every region of the UK saw lending expand in the same period, with the exception of Wales which had seen a 21.5 per cent increase the previous year.

This means the total volume of borrowing secured by this crucial part of the economy has grown by over 50 per cent in four years.

Commenting on the figures, BBA CEO Anthony Browne said: “Bankers and farmers could not be more different in the eyes of most people. The two sectors are typically located in separate parts of the country and play very different roles in the economy.

“It’s important to recognise, however, that both sectors share a mutually beneficial relationship.”