The survey of bank advances collects statistics on outstanding debt from all of the banks and mortgage companies that lend to Scottish agriculture.
At the 31 st of May 2016, the total outstanding loans from banks to Scottish agriculture was £2.20 billion. This was £177 million (nine per cent) higher than the previous May. The figure excludes an estimated £1.4 billion of liabilities from hire purchase, leasing, family members and other sources (see section 3.1).
The change in outstanding bank debt over time is also shown in real terms. Taking into account inflation in this way gives an increase in farm borrowing in 2016 of £155 million or eight per cent.
Chart 1: Trend in outstanding bank debt since 1980, both in current and real terms.
see table 1 for data
In real terms (after removing the effect of inflation), outstanding debt had remained relatively constant over the period from 1990 to 2010. So although actual debt had increased, prices had also gone up at a fairly similar rate, and hence the value of the debt had remained broadly constant. However, this is now the seventh consecutive year that outstanding debt has risen above inflation, and the figure now tops the peak of the 1980s.
Information from the Farm Accounts Survey suggests that about 50 per cent of liabilities are long term loans, a percentage that has been slowly increasing over time. In 2003 about 40 per cent of debt was long term. Liabilities equated to about nine per cent of assets, compared to 14 per cent in 2003, but seven per cent in 2011.
Chart 2: Proportion of outstanding debt by type, 2003 to 2015
Chart 3 shows the breakdown of loans by recipient. Most of the outstanding loans to agriculture are to owner-occupier farmers (87 per cent). The remainder went to tenant farmers (seven per cent), agricultural contractors (four per cent) and livestock salesmen (one per cent).
Chart 3: Bank loans by recipient type, 1980 to 2016
see table 2 for data
The change in the trend of chart 2, with the relative increase of loans to occupier rather than to tenants, reflects changes in the structure of agriculture.
Email: Neil White, email@example.com