Farm secures £50k loan

A farm has secured a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan from Barclays as it hopes to reopen to the public soon.

The loan for Home Farm Attingham has been used to cover expenditure in preparation for winter operations and keep the enterprise running over the lockdown period.

Set within National Trust grounds in Atcham, Shrewsbury, Home Farm is a small family-run dairy farm that diversified into tourism in the 1980s. Since then, its primary income stream is from day visitors who can meet the animals and visit the tearooms on site, while children can enjoy the playground.

The nationwide closure of the hospitality industry and hardship in the dairy sector created tough trading conditions for the farm, so financial support has been invaluable. The farm is cautiously optimistic around plans to welcome visitors back and enjoy a profitable summer. This year it is predicted more holidaymakers are likely to remain in the UK, and a post-lockdown desire to be outdoors and to support local enterprises could encourage visitors back.

Ben Dixon, owner of Home Farm Attingham, said: “We’re a dairy farm, but 33 years ago mum and dad diversified and opened the farm up into tourism. The farm sits within National Trust grounds, and before the crisis hit we welcomed hundreds of day visitors who could meet the animals and visit the tearooms for homemade cakes.

“Tourism is the biggest source of income for our business in the spring and summer, and it’s been massively affected by the pandemic. April, May and June are traditionally our busiest months of the year, and closure has cost us about 75% of our annual tourism income.

“We’re lucky in a sense to have a separate source of income with the milk, but that’s been hit too. One of the big customers our milk buyer supplies is Pret A Manger and that market disappeared overnight, and the value of the rest of our milk dropped due to demand, so it’s been a nightmare.

“Fortunately, the Bounce Back Loan has been a lifeline, giving us the cash needed to help us prepare for winter. We’re also hoping to benefit from more people holidaying in the UK this summer once lock down is over – there’s definitely interest in the countryside and how to run a farm so we’d encourage everyone to research what’s out there and support rural businesses.”

George Sigley, relationship director at Barclays Business Banking, said: “Home Farm Attingham is a family-run business, a traditional Shropshire farm that offers day experiences for families looking to feed the animals and learn about life in the countryside. As lockdown eases and the summer holidays kick in, locals will want to visit and explore in the sunshine.

“Farms are some of the most resilient businesses in the UK, and Home Farm Attingham is a prime example of this. The business has weathered a crisis in the dairy and tourism sector, and will recover when it’s deemed safe for people to visit and socially distance. Barclays has a team of agri-relationship managers that understand each farming business so that when crises hit, from weather to disease, we can make funds readily available and support our farmers through times of need.”

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