Ulster Bank extends a helping hand to farmers across Ireland

Recent research into the agricultural sector has found that 67 per cent of young Irish farmers expect to succeed to their family farm between the ages of 25-35 years and Ulster Bank has introduced new product offerings and a agri specialist team to support this growing sector.

Last month Ulster Bank announced a range of bespoke farmer product offerings aimed at supporting the growth ambitions of farmers in the dairy and beef sectors. Ulster Bank also launched a young farmers start-up package designed with the under-40 farmer in mind. The comprehensive offering includes dedicated experts and sector specific products to help support farmers through the early stages of their farming career onto sustained growth and increased expansion.

To support this growth, Ulster Bank has a nationwide team of 21 agri specialists who will undertake a new bespoke, advanced agri training programme during 2013 and 2014. The Ulster Bank certificate of agri finance contains modules of taught sectoral information and skills combined with onsite farms visits. Each module has a robust assessment and all modules must be successfully passed to achieve the certificate.

Most of the specialists, who are financial experts, are active farmers or have a farming background across the dairy and beef sub-sectors. The team is based in agricultural communities across the island of Ireland and will provide on the ground expertise and support to help farmers make a success of their business.

Recent research into the agricultural sector has found that 67 per cent of young Irish farmers expect to succeed to their family farm between the ages of 25-35 years. Notably the research highlighted these successors also intend to expand their family farms. With this in mind, Ulster Bank has developed a young farmer start-up package designed specifically to encourage and facilitate young farmers in their ambitions.

The young farmers’ start-up package includes access to an unsecured loan up to €30,000 and a range of options in terms of fees and accounts. Applicants must be aged under 40, hold an agricultural qualification and have a prepared business plan.

Ulster Bank has also refreshed its products for all farmers including a ‘Dairy Expansion Loan’ specially designed to ensure farmers are ready to make the most of the ‘post milk quota’ era. This product is available to both new and existing farmers who are planning to start or expand their dairy business.  An interest-only option for the first six to 24 months (dependent on loan purpose) is available to allow for the natural time lag between on-farm investment and generation of additional cash-flow.  Also on offer is a ‘Beef Stocking Loan’ to help farmers expand in the areas of cattle rearing and finishing.  A repayment schedule to match the farmer’s cattle sales is available.

Commenting on the new offerings, Dr Ailish Byrne, senior agricultural manager with Ulster Bank, said: ‘The imminent abolition of milk quota provides dairy farmers with tremendous opportunities for growth and expansion.  Ireland has a competitive natural advantage in milk production within the global market and 2015 represents the first time in 30 years that farmers can exploit this advantage. This continued increase in the national dairy cow population also brings the opportunity for further growth in beef production.’

She continued: “Therefore at Ulster Bank we are delighted to be introducing a new agri proposition that will provide real support to the farming and agricultural sector allowing this important industry focus on essential future planning and growth ambitions which are outlined in Food Harvest 2020.  We are confident that our agri proposition will help to support local farmers and agri-food businesses to drive a sector crucial to our economic recovery.”

To complement the launch of the young farmer package and the refreshed agri-business product offerings, Ulster Bank will be hosting a number of seminars, located around the country, dedicated to financial management for young farmers. These seminars are free to attend and are being run to help young farmers develop their financial skills and confidence when dealing with the bank and to explore the opportunities from the Common Agricultural Policy reform and Food Harvest 2020. Ultimately helping farmers to start up and succeed in a farm business.

The Ulster Bank team comprises Dr Ailish Byrne senior agricultural manager in the Republic of Ireland and Dr Anne-Marie Butler is its agri business development manager since 2008.

Stephen Trant looks after the south-east region; Derek Drinan; Tipperary, Limerick, Clare and Kerry; Louise Dineen; Cork and Waterford; and  Declan Coffey, Laois and Kildare. Sean Gleeson looks after North Dublin and Meath; Niall Heerey for the north-east region; and Gary Manga for Dublin & North Kildare. Andrew Carolan looks after Louth, Meath, Dublin, North Kildare, east Cavan and South Monaghan.

Cormac Forde looks after Cavan, Arva and Ballyjamesduff; Stephen McDermot, Longford; Ciaran Doherty; Galway, Mayo, Leitrim, Sligo Donegal and Roscommon; Rose Mckenna; Cavan, Monaghan, Longford, Westmeath and Offaly.

For further information on the Ulster Bank and the dedicated member of the agri-specialist team in your area, visit www.ulsterbank.ie/agri.

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