Milking the dairy industry
The Punt wonders how Richie Boucher went down with farmers at a conference in Cork last week. The Bank of Ireland boss, pictured, addressed more than 600 of them at the agri-business event, which was held, appropriately enough, at Corrin Mart near Fermoy.
Everyone from the Government to banks is making a big deal about investing in agriculture. It's perceived as somewhat untainted from the economic mess and as a bright light for developing exports. At BoI's recent AGM, Zambia-born Mr Boucher also said that targeting lending to the sector is at the top of the bank's agenda, especially with the milk quota system due to expire next year.
Also speaking at the event was BoI's head of agriculture, Sean Farrell. He told farmers that the removal of quotas provides a big opportunity. Irish dairies produced 5.4 billion litres of milk in the 12 months to the end of March, compared to the 13.7 billion litres that was produced in the UK.
Per capita, Ireland's milk production eclipses that of the UK. Under Ireland's 'Food Harvest' plan, the aim is to boost milk production here 50pc by 2020. It will be interesting to see how heavily Bank of Ireland lends to the dairy sector as it sets out to achieve that.