The number of farms and  farm-related businesses to go bust last year rose by 27% from 2006, and  recorded a higher failure rate than any other industry, according to analysts Experian.

A report in the Daily Telegraph says that  more than seventy farmers and agricultural businesses went bust in  2007. The dramatic rise is attributed to outbreaks of foot and mouth  and bluetongue, and a poor harvest resulting from bad weather.

Looking at all businesses, a total of  18,263 companies folded last year, 9% less that the 2006 total of  20,057. But, there was an increase in failures in nine of 34 business  sectors monitored Experian.

The credit squeeze is hitting farming, banking and property industries the hardest, it says.

Agriculture business failures were up 26.8  per cent, compared to building and construction failures – up 2.5 per  cent, property up 9.7 per cent, banking and financial services up 9.8  per cent, post and telecoms up 18.9 per cent.

Tony Pullen, the head of business  information at Experian, said: “Given the widespread speculation on the  likely negative impact of the credit crunch on businesses, these  figures are surprising.

“The credit crunch, more stringent lending  terms, higher borrowing costs and general concern about the economy  could be encouraging more vigilance and increased caution among  business managers and owners with regards to cash flow, risk exposure  and customers they choose to deal with.”

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