The NFU has urged agricultural representatives from the major banks to continue supporting the sector especially in this time of Brexit uncertainty, and ambiguity around future farm support. NFU economist Priya Punj reports on the latest event:
The Banking Forum meeting took place at the NFU HQ on 11 July and was chaired by Deputy President Guy Smith. It was attended by Barclays, Clydesdale Bank, HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest.
The NFU informed the banks about the key policy issues facing the farming sector and highlighted the need for continued commitment and financial support from banks. It is essential that a strong relationship is maintained with the financial services sector to ensure that a favourable credit and lending environment is available for NFU members. This will aid businesses to invest and grow for the future, especially amid the present uncertainty and challenges around removal of direct payments and access to EU labour among others.
Following discussion over lunch, the NFU's director of policy Andrew Clark gave an overview of NFU’s policy landscape and discussed NFU’s policy priorities. NFU chief economic adviser Andrew Francis, chief EU exit and international trade adviser Gail Soutar, senior BPS adviser Richard Wordsworth, and countryside adviser Alisha Anstee gave their insights to the banks on the current economic outlook for agriculture. They highlighted the NFU’s major concerns and the challenges facing farmers amid the present uncertainty, the latest Brexit situation, future productivity and wider rural funding post Brexit, the current situation regarding BPS payments, and an update on agri-environment schemes and payments.
The banks also had an opportunity to discuss their business conditions, confidence and attitude towards lending to the sector.
A lively discussion was had about the future policy and economic landscape and it was reassuring to see that the major banks are committed to the sector. We look forward to welcoming them back towards the end of this year.
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