Banks need to listen to the needs of farms says Assembly committee

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 28 July 2009

Reference: AGR 09/08/09

Banks need to take a sympathetic approach to the issue of farming debts. That’s what officials from the banking sector will be told as they meet the Assembly’s Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development on Tuesday, 28 July, in Parliament Buildings.

The meeting, which will include representatives from the Northern, Ulster and First Trust Banks, will be held in public session and will address many of the concerns that farmers have expressed about the pressure they are under in the current economic climate.

Speaking before the meeting, the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Ian Paisley Jr said: “The farming industry, like other business sectors, has been suffering the effects of the current economic recession. Not only have farmers been finding it difficult to borrow money from local banks to sustain their viability, they have also been coming under significant pressure to make repayments on loans paid out to them. However, many farmers are struggling to meet these repayments at a time when prices and demand for farming produce have declined as a result of the current economic downturn.

“This situation is made worse by the fact that many farmers are themselves waiting for money owing to them to be released from the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development. A backlog in payments to farmers who have participated in a number of departmental programmes, aimed at increasing investment in their farms, is contributing to the cash flows problems facing this vital business sector in Northern Ireland.

“In meeting with representatives from the local banking industry the Committee will be urging local banks to take a more sympathetic approach in relation to the borrowing needs of farmers, and on timescales for repayment of loans, particularly in light of the cash flow problems facing farmers as a result of backlog of payments from the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development. It is vital that the local farming industry is protected at this time of economic uncertainty.”


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