Posted on Wednesday 29 May 2013 by Ulster Business

Bank of Ireland UK doubles agri investment fund to 100mill  35

Geoffrey Stewart, Luke Stewart, Ciaran McGivern, Head of Business Banking and William Thompson, Agri Manager

Bank of Ireland UK has announced it is to double its Agri Business Fund to £100 million to meet the financial needs of the growing agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.

The fund, which is open to both new and existing customers, is available to those who are involved in agri-food supply chain, ranging from primary producers, processors, retailers and other agri-food related businesses.

The Bank's announcement follows the recent launch of a strategic action plan by the Agri-Food Strategy Board which envisages the industry's turnover growing 60% to £7bn by 2020 with employment rising to 115,000.

Ciaran McGivern, Head of Business Banking, Bank of Ireland UK, Northern Ireland said: "As the action plan recognises, the agri-food sector is a major economic driver which contributes substantially to every area of Northern Ireland. Bank of Ireland UK is determined to play its part in supporting the growth of a sector which holds so much potential and we are delighted to make these additional funds available for investment at all levels of the agri-food supply chain."

Geoffrey Stewart, who farms a large dairy herd at Magherafelt, said: "This is a very welcome announcement from Bank of Ireland UK at a time when there is growing recognition of the importance of agriculture and the agri-food sector to Northern Ireland's economy. We recently switched our own banking facilities to Bank of Ireland UK and with their support we have been able to invest in our business and to expand, so I am delighted other businesses will now also have that opportunity."

William Thompson, Agri Manager, Bank of Ireland UK said: "We have already committed all of the initial £50m agri-fund that we announced 18 months ago to a range of business expansion, diversification projects and working capital needs across the supply chain. We are pleased to be able to announce a further lending fund and over the course of the agri-show season Bank of Ireland UK staff will be on the ground across Northern Ireland to talk to producers and processors about the opportunities for growing the sector."

As well as doubling the Agri Business Fund, Bank of Ireland UK also announced a donation of £15,000 to Rural Support, the charity that supports farmers and rural families facing a range of difficulties, including those brought about by the severe weather conditions.

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