24 Nov 2011

Bank launches $60 million fund for loans to new farmers

6:47 am on 24 November 2011

The country's largest rural lender has set up a new multi-million dollar fund to lend to young farmers to keep them working in the sector.

ANZ National has launched a $60 million fund for loans to new farmers, who are starting off in an agricultural business aiming to eventually own their own farm.

Up to $50,000 of each loan will be unsecured and aspiring farmers will receive ongoing business support and training.

The bank says new farmers now need on average more than $1 million deposit to buy their first dairy farm and at least $1.5 million to $2 million for a sheep and beef farm.

ANZ New Zealand's commercial and agri managing director Graham Turley says the cost of buying a farm has put ownership out of reach of young New Zealanders and many are pursing other career options.

He says the age of the average New Zealand farmer is now over 50, so there are succession and continuity issues.

Mr Turley says farms continue to get bigger and in the dairy industry, for example, there are often several hundred cows which means an entry price of several million dollars.

He says a small farmer with no cash behind them and no family money will find farm ownership a very hard ask.

Mr Turley says he hopes the loans will help people take the first step - whether it's through leasing land or sharemilking.

He says the bank will also continue its seminar and advisory service for people getting into new farming ventures.