Banks encourage under-pressure farmers to make contact for support options

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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The pillar banks have encouraged farmers to make early contact with them if they are in financial difficulty.

It comes as the ICSA urged banks to be open-minded and flexible when it comes to dealing with beef farmers during the current downturn.

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Tadhg Buckley, AIB head of agriculture, conceded that 2019 to date has been a mixed year for the farming sector. He said AIB fully understand that some customers may be experiencing or will experience cashflow challenges.

"We are here to help and we will work with farmers on a case-by-case basis to find the most appropriate solution for their individual needs," he said.

"To date, we have not encountered any significant number of farmers who are seeking additional cashflow support.

"If there are customers who feel they may need additional cashflow support, we encourage them to make early contact with us as we have a number of support options available."

John Fitzgerald, agri manager, with Bank of Ireland, said: "Farmers who need financial support should proactively meet with their bank and present their plans to find a funding structure that puts the business on a firm financial footing."

However, he said that compared with the same period in 2017 and 2018, Bank of Ireland has seen no material increase in working capital demand from its farmer customers this year.

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ICSA suckler chair John Halley urged banks to be open-minded and flexible when dealing with beef farmers.

"The BEAM scheme has opened for applications, but payments are not expected until mid-October. In the interim, weanling prices remain challenged and bills remain outstanding," he said.

"Support is needed from all angles, and the banks have an important role to play at this time," he said.

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