Building a strong relationship with Shawbrook Bank has enabled capable and determined first-generation farmer Peter Barton to build his business.
Peter Barton says: “I have always had drive and wanted to farm on my own, but if I hadn’t been able to borrow, I would still be a cowman working for someone else. It has enabled me to pursue my dream.”
As a first-generation farmer on a tenancy, Peter did not get far with high street banks when he wanted a loan.
He says: “They would not entertain the thought of me, so I have had no help from the bank.”
Instead, he turned to broker Shire Leasing, then Shawbrook Bank, to help him build up his dairy herd.
“They were awesome cows,” he says, thinking back to when he bought some of his first heifers. As a cowman, Peter used a loan from Shire Leasing to buy some of his own cows, which he rented to the farmer he worked for.
Hard graft and entrepreneurialism saw him take on his first tenancy in July last year, then move to his current tenanted farm, a 132-hectare (325-acre) unit near Cornhill-on-Tweed in the Scottish Borders, in April this year.
He says: “I had been here for about two or three weeks and had a shed sat empty and lots of staff. You need cows for cashflow. You have to be fully stocked to run a dairy business.”
By this point, he had reached the limit of how much he could borrow from Shire Leasing. Having developed a good relationship with the company and never missed a payment, the manager brokered a deal for him with Shawbrook Bank.
With less than a year’s experience of having run his own farm, the bank considered a range of supporting evidence from Peter, put together with the help of the sales manager at Shire Leasing.
Peter says: “They looked at my history with Shire and saw I had never missed a payment. They also looked at my last three bank statements and we put together a two-page document of where I had come from, what I was doing and where I was going.
“They looked at my knowledge and experience.”
The manager at Shire also gave him a recommendation and Shawbrook lent Peter £32,000 to be paid back over three years. Cows can provide an additional income and this has been taken into account when assessing serviceability.
Building good relationships and a solid track record of never missing a payment were key to securing a loan, says Peter.
Now his herd has built to 350-head, having started with 42 in July last year.
He says: “It shows that you can expand. Having loans has grown my business. I now employ eight people and, this year, my turnover will be £700,000-£800,000, all starting from a £30,000-a-year cowman’s job.
“It just shows you can start with nothing and progress in life. I did not come from a farming family and my parents did not have lots of money.
“I work 20 hours/day and it is harder than everyone tells you it is, but it is possible. You just have to be dedicated.”
CHARLOTTE DAVIES Head of renewable energy and agriculture at Shawbrook Bank
“If you are a new farmer, getting funding to kick-start your business can be a challenge. Peter, for example, did not have two years’ worth of accounts, or much business experience, which could make it difficult to find funding on the high street.
“What he did have, however, was good farming experience and a solid, well thought-out business plan, designed with a reputable adviser, which a specialist funder, such as Shawbrook, can take into account, along with other criteria, such as qualifications, whether you know your costings, your credit rating and if you have any personal assets.”