Land purchase activity remained strong during COVID-19, driven nearly exclusively by the dairy sector, Ulster Bank has said.

The bank reports that dairy farmers were the key drivers of customer activity in 2020, with increased demand for finance also coming from the poultry sector.

This trend has been projected to continue into the new year, with Ulster Bank receiving a number of applications from farmers looking to convert to dairy farming or expand their dairy farm operations.

Beef support

Head of agriculture with Ulster Bank Ailish Byrne said that 2020 had been “a challenging year for the economy and the country, but agri food businesses have shown real resilience.

“We continue to provide stocking finance to the beef sector, as well supporting the poultry and pig sectors. The tillage and horticulture sectors continue to require seasonal loan facilities.”

Ulster Bank also reports a resurgence in farm building activity and the purchase of specialist equipment, primarily with the support of TAMS.

Months ahead

Byrne warns that the sector is likely to face some challenges in the weeks and months ahead, including those posed by Brexit.

“Among the supports we currently offer is access to key SBCI lending schemes, including the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) and the Future Growth Loan Scheme (FGLS).

“Across Ireland every day, we are working with our agribusiness customers, listening to them, supporting them and lending to them. We look forward to continuing this in 2021.”