Bank heat off farmers as outlook improves

Federated Farmers' national vice president Andrew Hoggard
Federated Farmers' national vice president Andrew Hoggard

Pressure on farmers appears to be easing a little on the back of an improved farming outlook, according to Federated Farmers' latest Banking Survey undertaken in May by Research First.

The survey shows that 8.5 per cent of farmers reported coming under 'undue' pressure from their bank over the past six months, down from 9.6 per cent in the last survey undertaken in November 2016. Ten per cent of dairy farmers reported undue pressure, which is down from 12.8 per cent in November 2016.

The drop for sharemilkers is from 15.0 per cent down to 10 per cent.

The easing of pressure could be thanks to an improved farming outlook on the back of higher commodity prices since the middle of last year, most dramatically for dairy but also for meat.
Federated Farmers' national vice president Andrew Hoggard

In the non-dairy sector (mainly meat and fibre and arable farmers), 6.9 per cent reported undue pressure, down from 8.2 per cent in November.

"The easing of pressure could be thanks to an improved farming outlook on the back of higher commodity prices since the middle of last year, most dramatically for dairy but also for meat," said Federated Farmers' national vice president Andrew Hoggard.

The average mortgage interest rate for respondents was 5.2 per cent, unchanged from November 2016, while the average overdraft interest rate was 7.3 per cent down from 7.7 per cent in November.

80.7 per cent of farmers reported being very satisfied or satisfied with their bank relationship.

This remains stable, down just a little on November's 81.4 per cent satisfaction. Sharemilkers had the lowest level of satisfaction at 69.5 per cent, but this was up slightly on November.

Satisfaction with bank communication also dipped slightly with 75.9 per cent saying it was excellent or good, down from 77.2 per cent in November. Sharemilkers continue to be the least satisfied at 61.0 per cent, down from 63.0 per cent in November.

66.7 per cent of farmers ended the 2016/17 season with a detailed and up-to-date budget for that season, a similar level as the same time last year. Meanwhile, 39.3 per cent had both a current-season budget and a detailed up-to-date budget for the upcoming 2017/18 season, again similar to the same time last year.

"Dairy farmers and farmers with mortgages are much more likely to have detailed and up-to-date budgets. This shouldn't be a surprise given that dairy farmers have significantly higher debt levels than other farmers, making robust budgeting much more pressing," said Mr Hoggard.

The New Zealand Bankers Association welcomed the survey results and said it demonstrated the strength of current relations between farmers and their banks.

"The consistently high bank satisfaction rating among farmers reflects the fact that banks are continuing to work closely with their agri clients," said Chief Executive Karen Scott-Howman.

"It also shows the importance of effective communication between farmers and their banks, and the need to have budgets in place, especially for those managing higher debt."

- Te Awamutu Courier

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