Irwin urges banking leniency on loans

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Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has raised concerns that banks are putting farmers under extreme pressure to repay loans at a faster rate.

Mr Irwin, pictured, said it was ‘vital’ that banking institutions approached repayments with some consideration for leniency given the huge pressure farmers have been under for the past two years.

He stated: “Farming for some time now has been a very tough and challenging sector and in this financial climate farmers had no choice only to seek financial assistance from the banks. This has obviously been necessary to sustain farm businesses over what has been a difficult period and without this liquidity, a high percentage of farm businesses simply could not have existed.

“In terms of the dairy industry this is a case in point and now that there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the dairy sector and milk prices have steadily improved, I am hearing from a number of farmers that banks are turning up the pressure on repayments.”

He continued: “Every farmer fully understands that loans must be repaid and no one entered into these situations lightly, however it is unacceptable in my opinion for banks to demand much faster and larger repayments instead of allowing farmers to catch their breath.

“This is the wrong approach for banks to take as dairy remains a volatile market and it is incumbent on our banking institutions to allow farmers to continue repayments at a rate that is affordable and doesn’t pile on yet more pressure.

“I would ask banks to reassess their approach in this regard and not make the situation worse for under pressure farmers,” Mr Irwin added.