8 Jul 2013

Agriculture debt hits record high

7:02 pm on 8 July 2013

Record high debt levels are concerning the agricultural sector.

The Reserve Bank's monthly sector statistics for May show the sector's debt climbed $422 million to $50.7 billion in just a month.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills says debt levels are concerning, as interest rates and this year's drought put the squeeze on some farmers.

He says 80% of farmers should be managing debt comfortably, but about 10 to 20% are at extreme risk.

Lincoln University Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness, Keith Woodford, agrees and says some farmers will have to restructure their business.

Professor Woodford says another severe event, such as this year's drought, could force many high-risk farmers to shut up shop.

But he says debt levels are not putting the strength of the national economy at risk.