Ailish Byrne, senior structural manager at Ulster Bank, explained that its sees young farmers as the lifeblood of the future Irish agri-business industry.
“With the Food harvest 2020 targets of 50 per cent increase in dairy production and 40 per cent in beef output. Young farmers are needed to drive this and be involved. The current demographics are not conducive to this. Currently a quarter of Irish farmers are over 70 and only while only seven per cent are under 35, this situation is not sustainable.”
“Irish young farmers are the future and we want to get involved in this area,” Byrne added. Ulster Bank is one of the key sponsors of the national conference and it launched its young farmer banking packages at the event this evening.
“Ulster Bank is launching a young farmer package today, which we hope will aid young farmers in starting off in the industry. We’ve found that access to credit for farmers is a big barrier to entering the industry. The new package we will be offering has the option for an unsecured loan up to €30,000,” Byrne explained.
Byrne also noted that the new package will also have a number of options in “terms of fees and accounts”.
“We hope it will see a big pick up from young farmers. We have seen interest form a lot of new entrants to dairy. Also farmer’s sons who want to branch out on their own and also people with no farming connections but who have worked in the industry and want to start up their own business,” she added.
On the new package, she noted: “There are certain criteria for applicants. They have to be young trained farmers, under-40 and have a prepared business plan.” She cited that “Irish farmers are often excellent when it comes to farm management, but there hasn’t been enough emphasis on financial management and the skills it involves.
“Ulster Bank will be hosting a number of seminars throughout the country, which will look at the financial management on Irish farms. We want farmers to be an efficient as possible.”
And for one lucky winner at this weekend’s Macra Na Feirme conference, Ulster Bank will be sponsoring a prize of two tickets to Ireland v Australia Autumn Internationals!
Follow AgriLand for all the latest updates and interviews throughout the weekend, and Macra craic agus ceol.