Financial pressure builds as bad weather continues, says UFU

Following days of heavy rainfall, Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president David Brown is urging local banks to recognise the added pressure and stress farm families are now under, and their ability to provide leniency

Mr Brown said, “The level of rainfall across Northern Ireland has made it impossible to move livestock, planting and sowing is way behind, and bills are mounting as farmers struggle to keep on top of their work. March is seen as a turning point in the farming calendar, but currently, that is certainly not the case. The ground is saturated due to wet conditions that stretch back to the middle of last year.

“We are urging everyone in the banking sector who interacts with farmers, to take this into account and to give whatever support they can. It is no secret that banks have made profits in recent years while farmers are doing their best to stay afloat. Banks have the power to apply leniency for anybody who’s battling to meet repayments and they need to step up for farmers.”

Weather conditions cannot be controlled however, ensuring fairness is applied throughout the supply chain can make a big difference for farm businesses.

“Many farmers operate as sole traders, therefore, it’s critical that every pound that’s in the marketplace makes its way back to farmers. This can help to ease the pressure on farmers when uncontrollable elements such as the weather, is going against them.

“TB levels are at an all time high in NI, many farmers are currently closed and are unable to sell livestock, meaning they have extra animals to house and feed. At this stage of the year, silage stocks will be low, and they will need to source and buy more. This puts extra pressure on cashflows and the daily running of the farm – farmers may need additional support.

“I urge all farmers who are feeling overwhelmed and isolated, to please reach out for support. The UFU will always do what it can to support members and local charity Rural Support has expertise to help farmers through challenging times,” said Mr Brown.