News Column

Outstanding farm debt rises seven per cent

August 22, 2014

ROG WOOD; Market round-up ROG WOOD

THE outstanding debt of Scottish farms has increased seven per cent over the past year, according to the latest National Statistics which have been released by Scotland's chief statistician.

A survey of the main banks and other lending institutions showed the outstanding loans to Scottish farms rose by pound(s)120 million in the year to May 31, 2014.

Total outstanding loans to the agricultural sector amounted to pound(s)1.84 billion.

Accounting for inflation this was an increase of five per cent since May 2013.

This was the fifth consecutive annual increase in Scottish farm debt.

Taking inflation into account, debt peaked in the mid 1980s at around pound(s)2.5bn, before high inflation rapidly eroded the value of the sector's outstanding debt.

After remaining steady for a decade during the 2000s, debt levels have now risen to their highest since the late 1980s.

In related data, figures from the Bank of England showed that in May 2014, the UK agricultural sector was the only business area to see rises in outstanding debt over each of the last three years.

In the absence of inflated land values on their balance sheet, most other business sectors saw successive reductions in debt levels.

The Cumberland and Dumfriesshire Farmers Mart sold 15 prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 216.5p per kg and an average of 207.8p.

There were 62 cattle presented in the rough ring when beef cows averaged 123.2p and dairy cows levelled at 96.4p.

The firm also sold 1,253 prime lambs to a top of pound(s)81 per head and 188p per kg to average 163.3p (-1.7p on the week).

The 778 cast sheep forward saw heavy ewes sell to pound(s)111.50 for Texels and average pound(s)71.13 (-pound(s)6.62), while light ewes peaked at pound(s)72.50 for Lleyn and levelled at pound(s)36.53 (-pound(s)11.15).

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 1,377 prime lambs in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of pound(s)87 and 200p to average 161p (- 2.2p).

The 338 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to pound(s)96 for SuffolkXs and pound(s)66 for Blackfaces.

United Auctions sold 333 store heifers at Stirling on Wednesday to a top of 241.3p and an average of 211.3p (-0.8p), while 454 store, beef-bred bullocks peaked at 259.5p and levelled at 218.7p (+3p).

One-hundred-and-ninety-seven store, B&W bullocks sold to 161.9p and averaged 142.4p (-1.9p).

In the rough ring 119 cows averaged 112.3p.

The firm also sold 7840 store lambs.

Top prices and averages: Suffolks to pound(s)65 and averaged pound(s)57.77 (-pound(s)1.91 on the week); Texels pound(s)66.50 and pound(s)57.43 (-pound(s)2.51); Mules pound(s)58 and pound(s)53.72 (+13p); Blackfaces pound(s)44.50 and pound(s)38 (-pound(s)2); Beltex pound(s)64.50 and pound(s)58.38 (-pound(s)1.95); Charollais pound(s)53.50 and pound(s)45.23 (-pound(s)5.87).

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Source: Herald, The (Scotland)

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