Farmers are urged to speak with banks

28 March 2014: Members of the UK farm unions meet for talks at UFU headquarters in Belfast. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
28 March 2014: Members of the UK farm unions meet for talks at UFU headquarters in Belfast. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

With farm incomes squeezed by high costs and poor prices for key commodities the Ulster Farmers’ Union is encouraging farmers’ to speak with their bank about their financial concerns.

This follows discussions with bank representatives in response to members of both the livestock and arable committees of the UFU warning of financial problems on the ground across the farming community.

Farmers have been hit by poor milk, beef, lamb, pig and arable prices – and while some of this can be put down to the weakness of the euro against sterling, which makes life tougher for exporters and makes eurozone suppliers more competitive in the UK, an explanation of why there is a problem does not take away the cash flow crisis many farming families are facing.

UFU president, Ian Marshall, said that back in December the UFU had met representatives of the main banks to discuss with them the significant down turn in farm gate prices and to highlight cash flow difficulties on many farms.

He added: “We have since then held further meetings with the banks who have assured us of their commitment to continue to work with farmers on this issue and we want to remind farmers that if they are experiencing financial difficulties they need to speak with their bank and see what products are available to help ease cash flow problems.”

The UFU president added that farmers in financial difficulties often felt they were alone in facing these problems. But he said that from the feedback via UFU committees it was depressingly clear that there are problems across the industry, and on farms of all sizes and enterprises.

“The banks are well aware that producer prices across all sectors are poor which is adding financial pressure to farm businesses,” he said. “It is however better if farmers go to their banks, rather than waiting for them to react when the cash available to a business has, quite literally, run out.”