Oxbury Bank has launched a new initiative to help fund young farmers in a bid to tackle the demographic challenges in the industry.
The bank has announced the Oxbury NewGen product, which it says is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the UK aimed at new farmers aged 18-40.
The scheme will provide funding for new farming ventures while also providing advice to give new entrants a chance for success.
Oxbury says it will provide up to 100% of the financing required – depending on the business plan the applicant may not need to input any finance themselves.
According to the bank, this level of lending to new farmers is not offered anywhere else across the UK banking landscape.
Defra figures show the average age of Britain’s farm owners is now 59, with farmers aged 65 and over forming the largest group of farm owners in the UK.
Just 3 percent of farm owners are aged under 35; a figure that has not changed since 2005.
One of the major barriers holding back young people entering farming is a lack of access to funding and the historic reluctance of banks to back the new generation.
Nick Evans, managing director at Oxbury Bank said the industry was in need of new entrants to secure the industry’s long-term future.
"Farming is a challenging business, but it’s also a hugely exciting industry for budding young entrepreneurs," he added.
“With the complex challenges facing farming, we know that access to finance and high-quality advice has been a barrier to new entrants coming into the farming sector.
“That’s why we’re launching Oxbury NewGen, a unique way to fund the next generation of UK farming talent.
“We are hugely excited to make our first offers to successful applicants and watch them succeed in the UK’s critical farming sector.”
Business and financial advice will also be provided through a panel of independent farm advisory services, which will help create and track the delivery and progress of business plans.
Oxbury says it will be funding that advice for a period of three years from the granting of the loan.