11 Sep 2009

Grain farmers under pressure

7:09 am on 11 September 2009

Grain growers have had to significantly increase their borrowing to stay afloat.

Latest credit figures from the Reserve Bank show that total on-farm lending from banks increased by 15% to almost $44 billion in the past year.

Dairy debt surged by 20% to $28.5 billion, reflecting their greater need for seasonal finance to make up for a big drop in advance or monthly milk payments.

But, lending to grain growers has taken an even greater leap in percentage terms.

Their debt has increased by 23% in the past year to more than $700 million.

With incomes down from the past season, Federated Farmers says growers are having to increase their overdrafts to pay for the new season's sowing.

At the same time, grain and seed chair Ian Morton a lot of produce is still being stored on farms. The unsold grain is mostly feed wheat and barley, but some have 'two to three times more' than usual.

Mr Morton expects to see some of that move soon, but prices will remain under pressure from the plentiful supplies available in Australia.