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Gildernew meets Bank Chiefs

7 July, 2009

Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA is meeting with representatives of the five main banks to discuss the impact of the credit crunch on rural businesses and farming.

The Minister has met with representatives of First Trust Bank, the Northern Bank and the Ulster Bank and she plans to meet the HSBC and the Bank of Ireland in the near future. The purpose of the meetings is to discuss a number of matters relating to the current economic situation, including availability of credit, to ensure banks are taking a long-term view of farming, bank charges and the importance of client relationships.

Minister Gildernew said today that confidence has to be restored, as many are concerned over jobs, homes, and the economy.

She said: “The importance of the agricultural industry to the economy cannot be over-emphasised. I therefore ask that lending institutions look sympathetically at proposals particularly where business plans are viable and where government support has been agreed.

“Banks should make every effort to keep their rates as competitive as possible given the pressures on farm incomes and the constant need for investment.

“A number of sectors within the agricultural industry are experiencing difficult times and I know that farmers are often reluctant to discuss their financial concerns. Farmers must keep an open dialogue with their banker to explore all options since dealing with issues at an early stage is the best way to overcome potential problems.

“From my discussions so far it is evident that the banks have various lending options. It is important that farmers choose the most appropriate financing option which best suits their individual farm situation.

“I am encouraged to hear the clear indication given by the banks of their desire to support the agricultural industry in the future and that advice and assistance are available to those who are experiencing financial difficulties.

"While each bank has different lending terms and conditions, I feel there are opportunities for new investors in rural areas to get support.”

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