Bank of Ireland today (Monday 22 September 2014) announced that it is strengthening its agri team with the appointment of an additional 15 dedicated agri managers across its network. A number of appointments have already been made in the south-east and it is expected that all 15 will be in situ before the end of the year. The primary focus of the new team will be on recruiting new agri customers as the Bank seeks to drive further growth from this sector.
Bank of Ireland continues to provide more than 50% of all new and increased agri lending with land acquisition, farm buildings and increased stocking requirements the main drivers of growth. With agriculture anticipated to be one of the best performing sectors in the next few years and with strong growth potential and increased optimism on economic recovery, the Bank expects that the demand from this important sector will continue at pace.
According to Sean Farrell, Head of Agriculture at Bank of Ireland Business Banking: “Our lending figures to the agri sector in the first half of this year attest to the continuing increase in demand for credit from this very important sector of the economy. Our loan approvals for the first half of 2014 have increased by 16% when compared with the same period last year and our approval rate is almost at 90%. In addition, we are currently approving funding for the purchase of over 400 acres of land per week.
“The abolition of the milk quota next year has resulted in a significant uplift in investment in this sector, as farming businesses position themselves to benefit from the growth opportunity that this provides. We anticipate that farming businesses will continue to look to expand their activities in order to maximise the opportunity that the removal of the quota presents. We want to play a central role in ensuring that they will have the credit necessary to meet their growth ambitions”.
The Bank recently announced a new €1 billion fund to support the ongoing development of the agri sector up to the end of 2017. It is anticipated that this fund will support farming customers for a range of farm investments and improvements to include the purchase of land, livestock and farm machinery. Cognisant of the volatility that agri customers can experience from time to time in terms of income, the Bank also launched a range of new flexible loan products that have been designed to help offset the impact of same.
“Today’s announcement reflects our ambition to significantly grow our agri book over the coming years and to continue to play a lead role in providing credit to this sector. We have plans in place to provide our team with an ongoing training schedule that will ensure they are fully up to date on farming trends and to ensure that they have the greatest understanding of their customers’ businesses”, concluded Sean Farrell.