Banks need to match expressions of support with ‘concrete actions’

Irish banks need to match their public expressions of support with “concrete actions” of support for their customers, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association’s (ICMSA’s) Shane O’Loughlin.

The chairperson of the ICMSA’s Farm Business Committee, O’Loughlin noted that farmers are under “serious pressure” due to the physical, mental and financial strains caused by the challenging weather conditions experienced in recent months.

He explained that the ICMSA has received reports from members across the country in relation to requests for overdraft increases being rejected and “completely over-the-top requirements” in terms of documentation for relatively small increases in overdrafts or loans.

The reality is that farm incomes are going to be down substantially this year. Farmers are going to need support and if our banks are serious about supporting their customers, they need to announce concrete measures that will actually make a difference.

O’Loughlin believes that banks, for example, should allow farmers to restructure, realign, or postpone repayments; they could also be given the option to make interest only repayments.

The chairperson of the ICMSA’s Farm Business Committee indicated that these measures could be introduced with no additional interest or surcharges.

He also believes that banks should make “real low interest products available to address the working capital deficit on farms”. Continuing, O’Loughlin claimed that the processing of such applications should be completed within five working days in all cases.

In addition, the level of documentation being requested in some cases is gone beyond ridiculous; track record and a long-term relationship needs to count for something, rather than reams and reams of documentation.

“What banks are saying publicly and the actual reality for some farmers does not correspond.

“The time for PR is gone, farmers need real support from their banks,” he concluded.