The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it is stunned by the profits made by banks in the last nine months when farmers remain under financial pressure to meet the ongoing high interest rates.
UFU deputy president William Irvine said, “Interim report figures were recently published highlighting how much our local banks have made in the past nine months. We were taken back and deeply frustrated by the level of money that was made by banks in 2023 to date, when farmers across Northern Ireland are worrying daily about how they will keep up with climbing interest rates and keeping their head above water.
“Banks often talk about being ‘strategic partners’ and having an approach that is based on putting their customers first. How do these figures show that they are working and supporting farm families?”
This is not the first time that figures released by other businesses have shown immense profit growth while farmers are under increasing pressure to pay the basics.
“It appears that everyone else within agriculture and the food supply chain is doing more than okay with managing increasing costs and lower producer prices, yet our farmers are on their knees. All sectors are being hit by an array of spiralling input costs, which are eroding already slim margins. Farmers need to know that their financial provider is there for them when needed and that they have a range of low-cost finance options to meet their business and financial needs.
“This is as serious a financial situation as many farmers can remember with the potential to impact local food production. The industry has always had a good and positive relationship with banks, and farmers have been valued and profitable customers for generations. Banks need to do more to meet the demands of our farmers, especially as the winter months approach and costs increase for their farm businesses. We urge our local banks to step up and deliver for their farming families, the figures are there to show they have the capability to do this,” said Mr Irvine.