§ Sir J. Barlow
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the availability of credit facilities for farmers wanting to expand beef production; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Soames
Yes. The main source of credit for this purpose is the banks; indeed one of the big banks has recently been reminding farmers of these facilities. Credit is not commonly given on the security of the livestock themselves, but banks are often prepared to lend on their knowledge of a farmer's ability and reputation, and of a satisfactory balance sheet. A farmer can more easily get credit if he draws up a farm business plan and gets it approved by a competent management adviser such as an adviser of the National Agricultural Advisory Service. Such plans—which may include the expansion of beef production—play an important part in the Government's Small Farmer Scheme, and also in the operations of the National Farmers' Union's Agricultural Credit Corporation which guarantees loans in suitable cases for beef production.
In addition to bank credit, the Fat-stock Marketing Corporation operate two credit schemes for beef production. Under the first, producers may receive monthly advances towards the feeding and labour costs of fattening cattle and under the second, they may receive advances of up to 75 per cent. of the purchase price of store cattle. Farmers are taking increasing advantage of these schemes.
Finally, under the Calf Rearing Subsidy, payments are made on eligible calves at about eight months old, normally well in advance of their sale as fatstock. This is in effect a substantial interest-free loan for beef production.