A SPECIALIST agricultural banking team has pledged to continue supporting Staffordshire farmers after reporting a significant increase in lending in the last year.
The agribusiness team at Yorkshire Bank’s Stafford Financial Solutions Centre, which is made up entirely of partners with either a family farming background or agricultural training, has grown overall business lending to £97million since the team was formed in 2004.
And according to the bank’s senior partner Ian Foster, being able to understand the issues facing their customers has played a huge part in the team’s success.
Ian, whose father was a dairy, beef and sheep farmer on the Lord Harrowby estate at Sandon in Staffordshire, said: “We started our agribusiness team with one partner in 2004 and we now have a team of five dedicated agribusiness partners in Stafford supporting over 350 clients working in the agriculture sector.
“We’ve always said that we’ve turned farmers into bankers not the other way round and it is a pre-requisite for our team members to have experience or qualifications in agriculture. It’s in our blood and we believe this has been a key factor of our success in helping those working in the sector to grow their businesses.
“We are committed to helping Staffordshire’s agricultural community thrive and will continue to invest in and support farming businesses and entrepreneurs.”
Ian, who is also vice chairman of Stone District Agricultural Society, added: “These are challenging times for everyone, but there remains plenty of opportunity in the agriculture sector.
“Now more than ever, farmers are being creative and are willing to try new things. We’re still seeing a lot of land being bought and sold and many businesses are also seeing the benefits of diversification into areas like renewable energy from farm waste.
“For us it’s not just about lending people money, we’re here to support farmers and other agricultural business owners and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. We want to be seen as trusted advisors, able to offer ideas and advice.”
Profile: Yorkshire Bank’s agribusiness team
Ian Foster - Senior partner
Farming experience: Father was a mixed farmer on a 120-acre farm on the Sandon Estate, Staffordshire. Vice chairman of Stone District Agricultural Society and member of The Turf Accountants farming discussion group.
Banking experience: 28 years in banking, three years with Yorkshire Bank.
Ed Brown – Partner agribusiness
Farming experience: Family owned an arable farm in Berkshire. BSc Honours in Agriculture with Land and Farm Management at Harper Adams University College. Previously a dairy consultant with Andersons and treasurer of Cheshire Grassland Society.
Banking Experience: Agricultural banking manager since 2001. Joined Yorkshire Bank in 2006.
Robert Ball – Partner agribusiness
Farming experience: Agricultural education at Walford College, ran a dairy herd for five years and also managed a machinery and country store for six years.
Banking experience: 12 years in agricultural asset-finance lending. Joined Yorkshire Bank in 2005.
Richard Hamer – Partner agribusiness
Farming experience: Both sets of grandparents were farmers – one on a beef and sheep farm in mid Wales and the other a dairy farm in Shropshire.
Banking experience: Over 30 years banking experience, predominately in rural communities. Has specialised in agriculture banking for 15 years. Joined Yorkshire Bank in 2003.
Danni Mulligan - Partner agribusiness
Farming experience: Grandparents were cereal farmers in Lincolnshire. Agribusiness degree from Harper Adams University College. Has worked for Royal Agricultural Society of England organising the Royal Show as well as Grassland and Cereals events.
Banking experience: Joined Yorkshire Bank in 2004. Became asset finance partner in October 2007 then promoted to partner agribusiness in January 2009.