Beef and sheep processors have been urged to introduce the option of paying farmers for their animals by bank transfer.
The call comes as Ulster Bank is set to exit the Irish market, along with plans for Bank of Ireland branch closures throughout rural Ireland.
Farmers also want to reduce their contacts in response to COVID-19 with many seeing the traditional cheque and remittance statement as outdated during the pandemic.
The Irish Farmers Journal asked meat processors ABP, Dawn Meats, Kepak, Kildare Chilling, Slaney Foods, Liffey Meats and umbrella body Meat Industry Ireland if they had plans to introduce the option of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) in response to Ireland’s new banking circumstances.
Dawn Meats was the only processor to respond, but it did not offer online payment.
As part of our wider COVID-19 protocols we have eliminated non-critical site visits
“Currently, payments are made by postal cheque with remittance details made available electronically where suppliers have furnished appropriate e-mail contact details,” a Dawn Meats spokesperson said.
“As part of our wider COVID-19 protocols we have eliminated non-critical site visits and unnecessary face-to-face contact. There is no requirement for suppliers to attend sites for receipt of livestock payments.”
IFA national livestock committee chair Brendan Golden warned that in the near future, farmers won’t have the facility to lodge cheques as a result of a loss of banking facility in their community.
In the long term, we also need to consider the exit of Ulster Bank from the Irish market
“This is an option we’ve been requesting from factories for the last number of months. Meat Industry Ireland has said it is up to each individual processor to implement,” Golden said.
“With COVID-19, we need to minimise interactions as much as possible and a bank transfer would assist farmers and factories in this. In the long term, we also need to consider the exit of Ulster Bank from the Irish market and the closure of rural Bank of Ireland branches.”