The ICSA has called for the Central Bank to ensure that farmer credit facilities are protected as Ulster Bank winds down its operations in Ireland (exclusing NI) over the coming years.

With many farmers relying on overdraft facilities, the organisation said that it was particularly important to protect short and medium-term facilities.

"Farmers with stocking loans or overdrafts rely on these facilities for their everyday farming activities. It is vital that these facilities are safeguarded for farmers,” ICSA rural development chair Tim Farrell said.

“Assurances must be given that farming customers of Ulster Bank will be able to access similar short-term loan facilities as they move to other banks.

Credit facilities

“Such credit facilities are absolutely critical, particularly for drystock farmers, and, in many cases, make the difference between being able to continue in business or not.”

He said that the ICSA was opposed to the sale of any loans to vulture funds and that every effort should be made to ensure the loans went to pillar banks, such as AIB and Permanent TSB, who have expressed interest in Ulster Bank’s loan books.

However, even if farmer loans are transferred to another pillar bank, Farrell said that existing credit arrangements must be protected.

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