Farming debt in Scotland has hit a record high with the amount of money owed to banks up 5% over the past year.

Official figures show that at the end of May 2017 a total of £2.32 billion was owed by Scottish farms, a rise of £113 million on the previous year and the eighth consecutive annual increase.

Debt levels have now risen to their highest since records began in 1972 after remaining steady for a decade during the 2000s.

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On top of bank loans farms also have an estimated £1.1 billion of liabilities from hire purchase, family loans and other sources.

Around half of all liabilities are long term loans, a percentage that has been slowly increasing over time, statisticians said.

The figures for Scotland come after problems with a new IT system caused delays getting European subsidies to farmers.

However the data reflect the overall UK picture, with figures from the Bank of England showing that, by May 2017, the UK agricultural, hunting and forestry sector had an outstanding debt of £18.5 billion, with debt levels up 57% since 2010.

Tory MSP Peter Chapman said the "fiasco" over EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments had forced more farming businesses to take out loans.

"These figures show the financial state of farming businesses in Scotland has never been worse," he said.

"Yet at a time you'd think the Scottish Government would step in to help, ministers have only made the situation worse.

"The SNP's catastrophic management of CAP payments starved the rural community of hundreds of millions of pounds."

Lib Dem Mike Rumbles MSP said: "SNP ministers have bungled their handling of the rural economy time and time again.

"It is no surprise that when farmers do not trust the Scottish Government to deliver farm payments or loans they are forced to increase bank borrowing."

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "It is vital that Scottish farmers can continue to access capital to invest in their businesses. These statistics show that banks are still lending to farmers, which is a sure sign of confidence in the sector.

"Although debt levels have increased to their highest level since the 1970s, the situation reflects the overall UK picture, with the Bank of England showing that agriculture is one of only two sectors to have seen consistent increases in lending in recent years.

"However, with many farmers relying on subsidies for a large part of their income, we must be wary of farmers getting into excessive and unmanageable debt.

"I would encourage any farmer who is experiencing financial hardship or is looking for help on increasing the sustainability of their farm, to contact our farm advisory service for support."