Farmers who are worried about their farm finances are being urged to engage early with their banks in a way that allows them the space and time to deal with any possible issues, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) farm business chair Pat O’Brien has advised.

The advice comes following a meeting with AIB and Bank of Ireland.

“Obviously, weather-related issues were one of the main topics of discussion at these meetings, but the credit facilities and associated interest rates available to farmers was also raised, because we are very conscious that there has to be a pathway for farmers to ‘farm their way out’ of cashflow difficulties and the banks will have to show consideration and support to those farmers when that’s required," O’Brien said.

The ICMSA committee chair added that the wintering of animals and paying for the increased fodder used and replenishing stocks will be crucial.

He added that while it looks like weather conditions are improving this week, the fallout of the extremely wet and lengthy winter will be long-term and will require extra bank support in some cases.

Reassurance and support

O’Brien said that the banks have reassured the ICMSA that they are willing to back their customers through a suite of available products. According to O’Brien, agri team members and support centres are on standby and farmers should engage with them at their bank.

He confirmed that the ICMSA had requested that the banks operate a single point of contact, so that farmers could explain their position speedily and time-efficiently.

O’Brien acknowledged that extra working capital has been leveraged this spring through merchant or co-op debt and added that once the dust has settled on this long indoor housing period, farmers should engage with the financial services available to them and confidently secure the best product available.

Banks need to provide decisions quickly and apply competitive interest rates that will help farmers farm their way out of their difficulties, he concluded.