First Trust Bank Launch AgriFood Support Programme Targeting Progressive Farmers and Agri-businesses
First Trust Bank today announced details of a new support package including a range of funding initiatives designed to assist progressive farmers and agri-businesses across Northern Ireland to expand and modernise their operations.
The initiative includes an initial £50m AgriFood Fund to support investment in farm/agri-business growth, diversification, modernisation or refurbishment, with the competitive package offering no arrangement fees, an attractive level of margin discount and flexible repayment structures. Also launched today is a new AgriFood Energy Efficiency Loan – specifically targeting farms and agri-businesses who introduce energy efficiency measures such as lighting, solar/PV, wind, biomass and hydro projects into their overall operations. The suite of offerings unveiled today also introduced a new Young Farmer Package offering three
years fee free transactional banking for farmers aged between 18 and 45 years as well as an attractive Farmer Credit Line to support seasonal working capital requirements alongside normal current accounts.
The programme of support will be delivered through a new team of 16 AgriFood specialists based throughout the Bank’s branch network across Northern Ireland, each of whom have been chosen because of their close working knowledge and appreciation of the unique needs of agricultural and AgriFood customers. Many are farmers or come from a farming background, while others have amassed years of experience of working with a wide range of farmers and AgriFood businesses across the province.
Speaking about the programme of initiatives, Des Moore, Head of First Trust Bank said;
“The importance of the the AgriFood sector to our overall economy is well known. The recent AgriFood Strategy Board ‘Going for Growth’ strategy highlights the significance of securing and enhancing the food supply chain here to allow us to take full advantage of increasingly global opportunities in food supply.
“At First Trust Bank we are very familiar with the importance of the farming community as the primary producers in that food chain and want to support those progressive farmers who wish to develop and modernise
their operations to take advantage of this massive opportunity. We also
appreciate the important interplay between primary producers and other
agri-businesses and have ensured our loan products and services are also available to the wider AgriFood market so that all parts of that important equation can benefit. We are also very proud that, having listened to our AgriFood customers, we are able to deliver a specific energy efficiency loan product with them in mind. Customers told us about the increasing challenge of rising energy costs within the sector and already we are seeing some customers reap the benefit of this type of investment.
“When taken together, we believe we have put together a range of competitive, innovative and attractive products and services which should aid those more progressive farmers and other AgriFood businesses to realise their growth ambitions. At the same time, we are also investing in the skills of our specialist team and believe they will be very well placed to assist progressive farmers and other AgriFood business owner to devise and deliver their growth plans in the years ahead.”
Thomas Morrow & Sons, a Newry based company specialising in the growing, packing and distribution of cut and scented flowers was one of the first to benefit from the new First Trust Bank £50m AgriFood Fund, as a result developing a new cold store, a flower cutting line and another acre of new glasshouse and polytunnel. This latest investment has brought them from production of 1 million flower stems a year to 2 million stems per year allowing them to increase their employee numbers to 15.
As well as supplying major retailers such as Lidl Ireland, the fourth generation family company is also a major supplier to several packhouses in the UK and R.O.I who in turn supply leading multiple retailers.
Pictured viewing the new facilities at Thomas Morrow & Sons are Des Moore, Head of First Trust Bank (left) along with Eric Morrow