News update:Mar 9, 2016

Govt offers support to Northern Irish broiler sector

The Northern Ireland government has announced a package of supported loans designed to help broiler farmers invest in infrastructure.

The Agri-Food Loan Scheme, to be launched in November of this year, will offer a total of £10m this financial year for farmers to invest in farm buildings "necessary to increase supply of the primary produce for processing".

The government will offer up to 40% of any total loan; a participating bank will lend the remainder. The bank's debt will be paid off before the state's contribution.

A spokesperson said this would prompt around £25m of lending to be shared by broiler farmers initially, with a commitment to opening the scheme to other livestock sectors by March 2014.

Arlene Foster, enterprise minister, said supermarkets committing to selling only UK-sourced meat had presented "major opportunities".

"That is why we have been working with the banks to explore the potential for an Agri-Food Loan Scheme, which would enable businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that exist."

Simon Hamilton, finance minister, said: "£10m has been allocated to Invest Northern Ireland to facilitate the first phase of the scheme this year, and the executive has agreed to commit further funds to the scheme should there be significant demand."

It is understood that farmers wanting to invest will apply through one of the six banks signed up to the scheme when it opens in November; Bank of Ireland, Barclays Bank, Danske Bank, First Trust Bank, Santander and Ulster Bank.

Source: Farmers Weekly

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