Bank squeezes 'creating misery for dairy farmers'
West Cork auctioneer Henry O'Leary has accused the banks of creating what he calls a hidden misery at the heart of dairy farming.
"Progressive dairy farmers with a medium-sized operation who want to buy land and expand are being ignored by their banks," he said. "While a tillage farmer or a drystock farmer can manage an enterprise that is somewhat dispersed, a dairy farmer needs land around where the milking happens."
According to Mr O'Leary, opportunities for a medium-sized dairy farmer to expand the enterprise are a rare occurrence.
"On occasion, as a dairy farmer, you might get one chance to buy land adjacent to the home place," he said. "It is one chance and you get one shot at it. You need a tuned-in bank manager who knows you and the business to back you.
"However, many farmers who have a lifetime's relationship with their local bank are being refused any support.
"Yes, they might get sanction for a loan, but the amount sanctioned is often a fraction of what they need. The absence of 'suitable' or appropriate finance is creating hidden misery among the middle ranks of dairy farmers."
Mr O'Leary maintained that the future of many mid-size dairy farms was being put in doubt by the lack of credit and the attitude of the banks.
"When this recession blows over, many of the opportunities for farmers with medium-size farms will have blown away with it," Mr O'Leary said.