Farmers meet Ulster Bank over sale of farm loans to vulture funds

The IFA and Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) met with Ulster Bank last week to raise concerns over the possible sale of farm loans to a vulture fund.

It emerged recently that the bank had been contacting farmers over the proposed sale. It is understood that the bank set a deadline of March 30 for borrowers to refinance their debts and avoid the sale of their loans to a vulture fund.

UFU President Ian Marshall said at a meeting last week the Ulster Farmers Union raised its concerns over the possible selling on of farm debts.

“We made clear in those discussions that this is a completely unacceptable way to treat farm clients, and have pressed the banks to enter into face to face discussions with the farmers affected,” he said.

The UFU is urging members receiving such letters to contact them.

“Those discussions concluded with us stressing that we would not be backing away from criticising the banks for this high-handed, insensitive approach to farmers trying in many cases to save family farm businesses.

“We have urged the banks to show more imagination in their approach to challenging times – to discuss with farmers the circumstances that created the difficulties and what they, as farm families, want for their businesses, so that both parties can work towards an acceptable outcome.

“As it stands banks are courting more bad press by being seen to be bullying farm families doing their best to survive in business.

“Separately we met with senior officials from the European Investment Bank and urged them to consider working with the entire industry here to develop new long-term funding arrangements for the entire agricultural industry,” he said.