Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (536)

Michael McGrath

Question:

536. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the Central Bank gathers data on farm-related debt; the number and value of farm-related debts in the economy; the number and value in distress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26312/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

On a quarterly basis, the Central Bank reports on SME credit statistics, which focuses on credit broken down by NACE code (the European industrial activity classification), including those related to primary agriculture. Detailed statistics are available including amounts of outstanding loans, growth rates, new lending and interest rates on outstanding amounts. The total amount outstanding at the end of 2018 was €3,144 million, down from a recent high of €3,945 million in 2013. This quarterly analysis does not include data on distressed loans. However, a “Financial Stability Note” published last week by the Central Bank entitled “A vulnerability analysis of Irish SME credit exposures” noted that while Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing was the largest lending sector in the SME category (at 21.5%), it had a relatively low vulnerability to default.

The Teagasc National Farm Survey examines issues such as the level of debt on Irish farms, providing valuable information on trends in the sector. Preliminary Results show that overall debt on Irish farms increased by 2% in 2018. It should be noted that almost two-thirds of farms have no farm business related debt at all. Of those with debt, the figure varies considerably by farm type.

Average Farm Debt by system 2018

% Farms with borrowings

Average debt (farms with debt)

Dairy

60%

€118,446

Cattle rearing

30%

€25,735

Cattle other

33%

€37,119

Sheep

21%

€35,924

Tillage

35%

€58,521

All

35%

€61,346

I meet regularly with the CEOs of the main banks on matters related to the agri-food sector. Access to finance for the sector is also an issue identified by the Food Wise 2025 strategy and it is monitored at the High Level Implementation Committee, which I chair.