Upper Bann MP David Simpson this week led a DUP delegation including Diane Dodds MEP and William Irwin MLA to meet with representatives of Danske to discuss the challenges facing farmers in all sectors of Northern Ireland agriculture at the present time.
Commenting after the meeting, Mr Simpson stressed the need for political action at an EU level to deal with the crisis.
“Given the difficulties facing all sectors of agriculture across Northern Ireland, it is vitally important that farmers receive a constructive and balanced approach from their banks to help ride out this storm,” he said.
“I understand the cash-flow difficulties facing many local farm businesses and the need for flexibility from banks is apparent.
“This week myself and party colleagues Diane Dodds MEP and William Irwin MLA met with officials in Danske Bank to discuss what is happening on the ground and enquire as to what measures they have put in place to alleviate the cash-flow issues facing many farmers due to falls in farm gate prices.
“Danske Bank officials outlined that to date they have made available capital resources to deal with the crisis facing all sectors. This has come in the form of up-lifting overdraft facilities or providing additional loans through specific funds.
“The point was made that this has and will continue to be carried out on a case by case basis. Officials did, however, point out that unfortunately some businesses will not be able to avail of such funding. These may be given the option of capital holidays and more time to adjust their business model.
“The Bank however remains positive about the future for agriculture and is willing where possible to back the sector.
“It is important that banks continue to see agriculture as a good investment and support farmers who have viable businesses but who are experiencing short term cash-flow issues at this difficult time. I and my party colleagues stressed that the Bank must be approachable and that set-up fees be kept to a minimum.
“This week’s meeting is the start of an ongoing dialogue which we intend to have over the coming months, and we will continue to monitor the Bank’s attitude towards lending. Banks generally have a key role in ensuring farm businesses survive into the future.”