Ulster Bank launches start-up scheme for young farmers
A new start-up package for young farmers - providing loans, training, and specialist expertise - is part of a major new agriculture proposition launched by Ulster Bank.
Sector-specific offerings for beef, dairy and poultry farmers are also part of the new proposition, designed to provide a boost to the vital agriculture industry.
A dedicated team of agri-specialists will work with Ulster Bank’s business banking team to support all kinds of farmers across Northern Ireland.
Ulster Bank Senior Agriculture Manager, Cormac McKervey, said the bank is committed to supporting the farming sector’s continued expansion and growth.
“Young farmers are the key to a strong and sustainable farming industry that continues to play a central role in the local economy. They are increasingly ambitious, well-educated, and business-minded, and we at Ulster Bank recognise that we have an extremely important role to play in helping them achieve their potential,” he says.
“We also have a very important role to play in supporting the established farmers of today. That’s why we are launching this new package for all farmers, designed to provide important financial support, sector-specific products, and the expertise of a dedicated team across Northern Ireland,” he adds.
The start-up package for young farmers is for farmers under the age of 40 who have recently started farming or are about to embark on a career in farming. It includes access to an unsecured loan of up to £25,000 and a range of other offers and supports, such as subscription-free business cards for the first year, and joining fees waived with Merchant Services.
Ulster Bank now has a dedicated team of 21 Agri Specialists; seven of them in Northern Ireland who will undertake a new bespoke, advanced agri training programme during 2013 and 2014. The Ulster Bank Certificate of Agri Finance contains modules of taught sectoral information and skills combined with onsite farms visits. Each module has a robust assessment and all modules must be successfully passed to achieve the certificate.
Most of the specialists, who are financial experts, are active farmers or have a farming background across the dairy and beef sub-sectors. The team is based in agricultural communities and will provide on-the-ground expertise and support to help farmers make a success of their business.
Ulster Bank has also refreshed its products for all farmers, including a ‘Dairy Expansion Loan’ specially designed to ensure farmers are ready to make the most of the ‘post milk quota’ era. This product is available to both new and existing farmers who are planning to start or expand their dairy business. An interest-only option for the first 6 – 24 months (dependent on loan purpose) is available to allow for the natural time lag between on-farm investment and generation of additional cash-flow.
Also on offer is a ‘Beef Stocking Loan’ to help farmers expand in the areas of cattle rearing and finishing. And the bank’s ‘Egg Laying House Loan’ is designed specifically for existing and new poultry farmers who want to invest in laying units. It offers 90% finance for amounts from £150,000, with a maximum facility amount of £1.5million.
To complement the launch of the Young Farmer Package and the refreshed agri-business product offerings, Ulster Bank will be hosting a number of seminars, located across Northern Ireland, dedicated to financial management for farmers. These seminars are free to attend and are being run to help farmers develop their financial skills and confidence when dealing with the bank and to explore the opportunities from CAP reform - ultimately helping farmers to start up and succeed in a farm business.