Banks rediscover love of solid but dull agri-sector
'You couldn't walk a yard without hearing a fellow giving out about being turned down for a bank loan." This was a typical comment at agricultural shows in recent years – until this year, that is.
Several observers noted how little conversation the banks were generating at the Ploughing Championships this year. That's a good sign.
When the crunch came in 2008, every business was indiscriminately caught up in the paralysis that subsequently struck the banks.
Solid agri-enterprises that had long-standing relationships with their bankers suddenly found their overdraft facilities being slashed and interminable delays in getting loans approved.
Of course, farms were being treated no worse than any other business.
There was also a small bubble of borrowing to be washed out of the agri-sector.
The massive Farm Waste Management scheme that grant-aided a shed-building spree to the tune of 40pc led to a 25pc spike in overall borrowing in the sector for four short years. That has now fallen back to €4.5bn, according to the Central Bank.
But the check in activity is much less pronounced than that in almost every other sector.