Responding to new statistics showing that farms' bank debt is at a record high, increasing by 5% over the past year, Scottish Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP said:
“SNP ministers have bungled their handling of the rural economy time and time again. It is no surprise that when farmers do not trust the Scottish Government to deliver farm payments or loans they are forced to increase bank borrowing. These debt figures underline the challenge facing our rural economy
"From broken promises to provide more support to food and drink manufacturers in the Highlands and Islands to a broken farm payments system that has left thousands of farmers in the lurch, the SNP Government has displayed utter contempt for our rural economy. When announcing her programme for government, Nicola Sturgeon did not even mention the rural economy. When confidence in the government's ability to deliver is so low it is no surprise that £180 million in loans can sit in Scottish Government coffers while farmers take on a further £113 million of commercial loans.
"It is essential that the Scottish Government support our rural economy so that farmers have confidence to invest in their farms and trust that essential agricultural payments will be delivered on time."
Notes to editors:
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.