Oxbury Bank has launched a new initiative to provide funding and business advice to young farmers who are being held back by a lack of finance and access to expert support from traditional banks.
The UK agtech bank’s latest product, Oxbury NewGen – Funding Future Farmers, will seek to tear down the barriers, financial or otherwise, that are currently preventing young people from entering the agricultural industry.
The average age of Britain’s farm owners is now 59 years old, with farmers aged 65 and over forming the largest group of farm owners in the UK.
Just three per cent of farm owners are aged under 35; a figure that has remained constant for the last 17 years.
In tandem with the rising average age of farm owners, the challenges of running a farm are becoming increasingly pronounced.
These challenges span from the changes required to deal with climate change and biodiversity, changes in the economics of farming and farm consolidation and changes in global and domestic supply chains.
In addition to these factors, a general lack of access to funding and the historic reluctance of banks to back the new generation is also acting as a barrier.
The bank is aiming to mitigate these challenges through the launch of its new product, which is specifically targeting new farmers aged between 18 and 40.
Oxbury NewGen will seek to provide funding, advice and backing to new entrants into the farming sector.
The bank has promised to provide ‘up to 100 per cent’ of the financing required, subject to the applicant’s business plans.
Funding will be provided in conjunction with relevant business and financial advice from a panel of independent national and regional farm advisory services; which will create and track the delivery and progress of business plans.
Oxbury will be funding that advice for a period of three years from the granting of the loan.
Recognising the period of radical transformation currently shifting attitudes in British farming, including generational shifts in the level of sustainability, provenance and production standards, the bank’s managing director, Nick Evans, urges 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,” says Evans.
With the complex challenges facing farming, Evans admits his resonation with the barriers to entry currently plaguing the farming sector, including access to finance and high-quality advice.
“That’s why we’re launching Oxbury NewGen,” continues Evans, who describes the service as “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,” he concludes.