Fund Commits £16m To Agri-Food Sector Growth

A fund set up to encourage growth in the agri-food sector has seen £16 million committed since its launch in July. The agri-food fund was established by First Trust Bank with the promise of £50m to be pumped into the industry.

It is designed to assist progressive farmers and agri-businesses across the north to expand and modernise their operations with a focus on diversification, modernisation and refurbishment.

The bank has also added 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.

At an event at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Hillsborough, First Trust introduced a team of 16 agri-food specialists.

Permanent secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Dard) 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.”

Head of First Trust Des Moore 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 inter-play 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.”