Belfast Telegraph

Lloyds introduce new products for would-be venison farmers

Setting up a venison herd is no longer as "dear" as you thought, with the launch of specialist finance for farmers wanting to enter the flourishing UK industry.

Lloyds Banking Group has introduced a range of finance options to help deer farmers overcome the financial barriers to establishing or growing herds.

Demand for the rich, dark meat is rising faster than supply, according to the Venison Advisory Service, with which the lender designed the new products.

They predict the UK venison market to grow by 10% in 2017, but high operating costs mean many farmers struggle to grow their herds or start new ones - and are failing to keep up with demand.

As a result, around one third of venison sold in the UK is imported from other countries - even though many processors and consumers would prefer to buy British.

The new range of financial support from Lloyds Bank is designed to help farmers manage their income cycles that are unique to the venison industry.

It includes medium to long term lending to help farmers buy livestock, asset finance to help with purchasing and upgrading facilities, and working capital solutions.

Andrew Naylor, UK Head of Agriculture at Lloyds Banking Group, said that while the surge in demand for venison has created "opportunities" for British farmers, it is not always easy for them to start or grow a farm.

"There can be a period following the establishment of a new herd where the deer are calving, then maturing, but not yet generating income," he said.

Mr Naylor said the products would "alleviate working capital pressure and free up cash that would otherwise be tied up in new livestock".

John Fletcher, from the Venison Advisory Service, said: "The UK venison market is growing significantly with demand currently exceeding supply.

"This has created a real opportunity for those considering setting up a commercial deer farm as a business venture or an additional revenue stream."

He added: "It's great to see Lloyds Bank creating tailored products to support these farmers."

Venison finance is the latest package of financial support for specialist sectors by Lloyds Bank, and follows their 2016 launch of finance for egg producers and poultry farmers.

The products will be available to new or established farmers who might be considering alternative markets to grow or improve profitability.