Bank Loans to Scottish Farming

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The total outstanding bank debt of Scottish farms increased 5% over the past year, according to the latest statistics released by Scotland's Chief Statistician.

A survey of the main banks and other lending institutions showed outstanding loans to Scottish farms rose by £113 million in the year to May 31, 2017. Total outstanding loans to the agricultural sector amounted to £2.32 billion.  Accounting for inflation, this was an increase of three per cent since May 2016.

This was the eighth consecutive annual increase in Scottish farm bank debt. After remaining steady for a decade during the 2000s, debt levels have now risen to their highest since records began in 1972.

In addition to bank loans, farms have an estimated £1.1 billion of liabilities, related to hire purchase, family loans and other sources. About 50% of total liabilities are long term loans, a percentage that has been slowly increasing over time. In 2003 about 40% of debt was long term. Liabilities equate to about 8% of assets.

The data reflect the overall UK picture. Figures from the Bank of England showed that, by May 2017, the UK “agricultural, hunting and forestry” sector had an outstanding debt of £18.5 billion, having seen a 57% increase in debt levels since 2010. The only two other business sectors that had seen an increase since 2010 was utilities, which increased 63%, and wholesale and retail at 8%.

The statistics publication was produced by independent statistical staff free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


1.            Note that these figures are for levels of outstanding debt, not estimates of new loans. Information is not available to show when the loans were taken out or the associated repayment periods.

2.            “Real terms” means taking into account the effect of inflation. It shows, for previous years, the value of the debt expressed in today’s prices. This is because, for example, a loan of £10,000 in 1990 could have paid for something that nowadays would need a loan of £20,000, so we say the 1990 loan was worth £20,000 in today’s prices.

3.            The full statistical publication can be accessed at:

4.            These statistics are used by government and stakeholders to monitor and assess the economic well-being of the agricultural sector and for policy evaluation. Further information on Agriculture and Fisheries statistics within Scotland can be accessed at:

5.            More information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:

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