Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher is seeking a detailed study into how the EU’s finance and banking regulations are affecting the agricultural sector in terms of its ability to secure access to credit.

Kelleher, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON), has co-tabled an amendment along with Dutch MEP Caroline Nagtegal, requesting the European Banking Authority to undertake a thorough assessment of the impact of the Capital Requirement Regulation (CRR) on agricultural financing over the coming years and again by 2030.

“For years, we have seen how farmers are losing out in terms of their engagements with the banking system,” Kelleher said.

“I firmly believe there must be a realisation that agricultural financing is not the same as many other forms of commercial financing. The financing of farms is in no way comparable to the financing of other economic activities.

“My amendment would also require the European Commission to draft a legislative proposal, if deemed necessary, to amend the CRR to mitigate any negative effects on agricultural financing,” he added.

Kelleher said that access to credit for farmers is one of the key issues affecting the viability of family farms in Ireland.

“The dogs on the street know that banks are very slow to lend to farmers, and I believe this is due in no small part to the banking legislation in effect right now.

“My amendments are the first step in addressing the challenges farmers face in terms of securing access to credit.”

The MEP said that over the next number of months, he will work closely with his colleagues to secure the changes needed to support the agricultural community.

Banking and agriculture

The call by MEP Kelleher follows a recently published report which states that a considerable amount of work is needed to build trust in banks amongst farmers.

The Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) asked 98 farmers across the country about their attitudes to the financial sector as part of their éist Public Trust in Banking survey 2022.

The farmers who took part in the survey were located across the country, with the majority from Munster (45%) and Leinster (30%).

Almost three quarters of the farmers were aged between 35 and 64, while 24% were over the age of 65.

58% of the farmers had a beef enterprise, 28% were engaged in dairy, tillage accounted for 28% of respondents, with the remainder divided across sheep, poultry, pigs, horticulture and other types of farming.

The IBCB survey found that the level of trust which farmers have in banks is very low.