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7 July, 2016 - 11:32 By Kate Sweeney

Barclays launches £100m fund to boost UK agriculture

agriculture, cambridge, barclays

Barclays is inviting Cambridge and East of England companies to pitch into a new £100 million UK agricultural funding initiative.

The bank is making that amount available in loans to boost the sector, to help future-proof the industry for the next generation, improve efficiency and create additional revenue streams to limit effects of market volatility.

The fund is available to farmers looking to modernise their infrastructure, helping to streamline their farming processes and increase efficiency.

It will also help farmers seeking to reduce their farm’s exposure to market volatility by providing funds to invest in viable diversification projects either within agriculture or from non-agriculture sources.

The fund is in in addition to the ongoing support that Barclays offers to the sector. Loans from the fund have fixed fees starting at 0.6 per cent for a loan term of 0-5 years, 0.75 per cent for loans that are 6-10 years and rising to 0.90 per cent for loan terms of 11-15 years.

Mark Suthern, head of agriculture at Barclays, said: “We are committed to supporting British farming and are dedicating £100m in lending solely for use within the farming industry to help boost the industry’s profitability and efficiency.“This fund will provide essential investment; the fund will also make it easier for farmers to find alternate sources of income, decreasing the impact of price volatility on farm incomes.”

The fund comes at a time when the UK agriculture sector faces a number of challenges that have placed increasing pressure on farmers. From concerns about commodity prices, which have remained steadfastly low, to poor weather impacting output, adding further pressures to the industry.

Oliver McEntyre, national agricultural strategy director at Barclays, added: “After the turbulent times of the last few years, many farm businesses have found ways to improve efficiency, this fund is released to assist the progression of this.

“It is not about increasing production; it is about helping our customers access the finance to invest in producing the same quality and quantity of product for less cost, or finding solid alternative income streams.”

Barclays already supports more than 20,000 UK farmers and has a team of over 120 agriculture managers across the country.

In a broader move, the bank has pledged to continue its high levels of SME lending to UK businesses in the wake of Brexit. Barclays aims to beat last year’s strong record of £5.4 billion in SME lending and says it has no plans to withdraw or increase the competitive rates it offers due to current economic uncertainty.

Jane Galvin, managing director for corporate banking at Barclays Eastern Region, said: “Following the referendum many businesses will be reassessing their plans for growth and may need to re-plan or increase the resilience of their finances.

“It’s in times like these when strong banks should stand tall and help ensure the stability in our economy by continuing our commitment to lend. “SMEs should know that even if their outlook is looking less clear, their bank is on their side and will support them through thick and thin.”

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