First Trust agri food fund already £16m committed
First Trust Bank’s recently launched £50 million Agri Food Fund has been in much demand with £16 million already committed to a range of investment projects across Northern Ireland.
It is part of an overall support package launched by the Bank in July which is designed to assist progressive farmers and agri-businesses across Northern Ireland to expand and modernise their operations. Details of some of the funded projects were revealed at a stakeholder event held in the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Hillsborough.
The AGRI FOOD FUND is specifically designed 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. The Bank also launched a new AGRI FOOD 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 benefits of the technologies were showcased at the event with a tour of AFBI’s facilities which are themselves primarily powered by a range of renewable energy facilities.
At the event, First Trust Bank took the opportunity to introduce its new team of 16 Agri Food specialists based throughout the Bank’s branch network across Northern Ireland, each of whom has been chosen because of their close working knowledge and appreciation of the unique needs of agricultural and Agri Food customers.
Speaking at the event, Agriculture and Rural Development Permanent Secretary, Noel Lavery, said: “It is clear that First Trust Bank has placed significant importance on the value of the Agri-Food sector to our overall economy and I am delighted that it wants to play its part in supporting the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ strategy . This represents a significant opportunity to secure and enhance the food supply chain here in the north to take full advantage of increasing global opportunities in food markets.
“I am sure that the range of funding initiatives on offer will assist farmers and agri-businesses across the north to expand and modernise their operations.”
Speaking about the success of the Agri-Food support programme to date, Des Moore, Head of First Trust Bank said: “The importance of the Agri Food sector to our overall economy is at last fully recognised. Full marks must go to the Agri Food Strategy Board, both the DARD and DETI Ministers, as well as the industry players for revealing its individual and collective potential and in setting out a road map for how it can be achieved.
“We recognise that Banks need to play their part in supporting that drive and can assure all concerned of our commitment to do just that.
“We want to support those progressive farmers and agri-businesses who wish to develop and modernise their operations to take advantage of this massive opportunity. We appreciate the important interplay between primary producers and other agri-businesses and have ensured our loan products and services are available to the wider Agri Food market so that all parts of that important equation can benefit. We are also very proud that, having listened to our Agri Food customers, we are able to deliver a specific energy efficiency loan product with them in mind.
Already we are seeing some customers reap the benefits of this type of investment which in turn makes their operations much more efficient.
“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 Agri Food businesses to realise their individual growth ambitions, contributing to the collective ambition for the industry.”