An undisclosed number of Northern Irish Dairy farmers have received letters from their banks asking them to repay loans and leave the bank.
Northern Ireland dairy farmers – As the uncertainty of Brexit still looms and with EU farm subsidies amounting to £260 million in Northern Ireland, which is now in jeopardy, banks are asking farmers what backup plan they have if subsidies are stopped.
The banks have expressed concern for some time that some Northern Ireland dairy farmers don’t know how their business is performing or exactly what their financial position is. The banks are acting now prior to confirmation on the future of subsidies and farming post-Brexit and calling in their loans from farms that have already been highlighted for some time.
The banks are warning Northern Ireland dairy farmers to think carefully about any major capital expenditure and to cut costs wherever viable to withstand the uncertain future of subsidies. They are also advising farmers to think how they could cope without subsidies and look at any measures to help cope with this likely scenario.
The farmers that have already been asked to pay back their loans risk losing their farms if they aren’t able to do so.
Northern Ireland Dairy Farmers Fear Brexit Barriers
This follows worries for Northern Ireland dairy farmers that barriers to trade with the Republic of Ireland will be instated post-Brexit. This would impose a severe risk to the dairy business in Northern Ireland.
The potential border barrier would risk not just exports to supermarkets in the Republic but as was highlighted to a House of Commons select committee, there is a highly successful global business in cross-border milk and cheese production and also infant formula, which amounts to a third of milk production in Northern Ireland, all hanging in the balance.
Mike Johnston, the Northern Ireland director for Dairy UK, told the Northern Ireland affairs committee.
“Northern Ireland Dairy farmers would have to go out of business as a consequence of their milk not being able to be processed,”
He told the committee more than 25% of the region’s raw milk went south of the border to be processed but a hard Brexit would close down that flow, not just because of tariffs and customs checks, but because of the burden of paperwork relating to issues including traceability, animal welfare, and food standards.
This is the most public review of the issues for Northern Ireland’s, cross-border agricultural trade threat caused by Brexit. Until now both food manufacturers and Northern Ireland’s dairy farmers have been reluctant to speak out about their worries.
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