50 Years of Success Underfoot
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 16:22

2012 is a year of Royal celebrations and London Olympics, but for one rural community it marks 50 years of success underfoot!

Eyeball the footwear as you walk through any mart in Scotland and the name seen on most wellies is Bekina. A company founded in 1962 by shoe makers Denis and Donaat Vanderbeke at Kluisbergen, a small village in the gently rolling Flanders Fields of Belgium.

Three generations later and still run by the same family Bekina specialises in the design and manufacture of wellington boots for those working on farms or in food processing plants. A niche market demanding long lasting, value for money footwear that is both safe and comfortable to wear for long hours in all weathers.

Scottish Farmer photographer Niall Robertson took a pair of Bekina Steplite X wellies out for a 'test drive' last winter and has been spotted wearing them in all weathers ever since.

20 years ago the Bekina team took another major step forward by switching to manufacturing their award winning wellies from polyurethane, PU, rather than PVC or the traditional rubber.

The result has been a series of increasingly popular wellington boots such as the Agrilite and now the Steplite X and Thermolite ranges. Light as a feather Steplite X boots proving especially popular with Scottish farmers thanks to their ability to keep feet warm in winter yet cool in summer.

Easy to clean and slip resistant Steplite X boots have the entire sole flat to the floor thus reducing the risk of painful and costly injuries due to slipping.

Later this year a third generation of the Vanderbeke family, Thomas, takes over the helm at Bekina from his father Georges. Bekina having now grown to international status with boots sold as far afield as New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Russia.

Long gone are the days when Thomas Vanderbeke’s grandfather and Uncle made hand crafted boots for their farming neighbours. However, though the latest process technology is now used, Bekina staff many of whom tend to come for a year and stay a lifetime, retain that rural pride in the product of their labour.


Get ahead with a hat at Beef NI 2012 in Dungannon Farmers' Mart! Cheryth McCaw was warm from head to toe in her Bekina Steplite X boots and matching woolly hat!

Buy a pair of Steplite X wellington boots and you can share in the success of manufacturers Bekina, who won an award at the prestigious ‘2011 Preventica Health and Safety at Work Exhibition’ in Rennes, France.

“To celebrate our success every pair of Steplite X wellies bought comes with a free woolly hat to keep your head as warm as feet in Bekina boots,” delighted company manger Brecht Debruyne explained.

The Bekina Steplite X award at Rennes was won in the Personal Protective Equipment category as these boots are designed to improve working conditions for farmers.“The boot is designed with comfort and safety to the fore with the entire sole in contact with the ground as the front does not curve up. Equally important the thick sole and heel reduces pressure on the foot when walking over uneven ground, jumping on and off tractors or climbing over gates.

Hampshire Down pedigree sheep breeder Michelle McCauley has two excellent reasons to step lightly this year – a trend back to producing early lambs and her farm feet friendly Bekina Steplite X wellies!“Wider fitting Bekina Steplite X wellies feature a shock absorbing zone in the heel and come with free, shock and moisture absorbing, insulated insoles. These award winning wellies also have an enhanced slip resistant profile and resistance to oil, fat and farmyard manures.”

For further details of the farmers’ favourite PU wellington boot, the Steplite X, browse  www.bekina.be or contact Agrihealth on LoCall 1890 200 999.in the ROI, freephone Agrihealth 0800 731 2490 in the UK.


Hampshire Down pedigree sheep breeder Michelle McCauley has two excellent reasons to step lightly this year – a trend back to producing early lambs and her farm feet friendly Bekina Steplite X wellies!

Higher prices for early lambs are encouraging producers to put a portion of their flocks to Hampshire Down rams, the terminal sire for easy lambing, fast finishing lambs to hit the high priced Easter market.

Thrilled to be asked!' Co Down farm wife Michelle McCauley was delighted as 'as a working Mum in her forties' to model for Bekina, makers of the Steplite X wellington boot famed for giving farm feet a treat.

Last winter cold feet sent the Clough, Co Down sheep breeder on a buying mission to acquire two pair of Bekina Steplite X wellington boots for husband John and herself.

“With the lambing shed down to minus six even during daytime Bekina Steplite Xs proved a real treat for our feet and now we find them as cool in summer as they were warm in winter thanks to being manufactured from air-foamed polyurethane,” explained Michele.

“Even better, being 40% lighter than traditional wellies our Bekina Steplite Xs are not ‘dragging the feet off you’ at lambing time or when walking the fields checking stock this showery summer.

“In the 23 years since we formed the award winning Moneycarragh Hampshire Down Flock last winter was by far the coldest and Steplite Xs by far the most comfortable, hard wearing wellies we have ever worn.

“With four of a family aged five to 23, the Moneycarragh Hampshire Down Sheep Flock and our more recently founded Moneycarragh Aberdeen Angus Cattle Herd John and I cover many miles in these sensible Steplite X boots designed to delight farm folk.

“An extra treat for my feet as I also cover many more miles a week on part time night duty at Skeagh House, a residential home for the elderly in Dromore, Co Down.” Michelle added.

Clearly delighted at being asked to model her Bekinas, “A blow for the over forty working mum,” says Michelle, the popular chair of the Ireland Hampshire Down Association. Bekina boots are stocked by co-ops and farm suppliers across the country, for details For further details contact Agrihealth of Monaghan on LoCall 1890 200 999.


With bitter winter weather forecast All Ireland Hampshire Down Sheepbreeders Association chairperson Michelle McCauley sought advice from Paul Redmond of Agrihealth, Monaghan on the role of Bekina Thermolite winter wellies in avoiding cold feet during early mornings in the milking parlour or long hours on a quad bike.


COLD fronts are forecast for February bringing foundering feet to farmers in milking parlours and on quad bikes across Ireland.

But not for those wearing Thermolite winter wellies from Bekina, a family firm famed for producing year round Steplite X light weight, long lasting wellies manufactured from polyurethane to keep feed warm in winter yet cool in summer.

However the specialist winter weather Bekina Thermolite boots keep farm feet warm down to a bone chilling minus 40C thanks to extra thick uppers and soles. Again manufactured from polyurethane to trap insulating air pockets Thermolite boots are ideal for early mornings in milking parlours or long hours on quad bikes.

Both Thermolite and Steplite X wide fitting boots are slip resistant and supplied with insulating, moisture absorbing insoles.

2012 is the 50th anniversary of Bekina, a family firm firmly planted in the farmlands of Flanders where Steplite X and Thermolite boots were designed, developed and proven on local farms.

Bekina Thermolite winter wellies and Steplite X year round boots are available with or without safety toes from agricultural merchants countrywide, for details contact Agrihealth of Monaghan on LoCall 1890 200 999

Tuesday, 20 March 2012 16:07

 ‘Too much work, too little time’ is a comment commonly heard when calf rearing is in full swing, hence the growing popularity of computerised calf feeders.

Alistair Sampson from Volac talking to Raymond Lee from Enniskillen on the Volac Stand at the Winter Fair. Picture: Columba O'Hare

Though Volac NI manager Alistair Sampson is adamant a computer controlled calf feeding system has two other major advantages - money is saved and more calves are successfully reared “

Typically an hour and a half of your precious time is saved per calf through to weaning using a Volac Vario+ computerised calf feeder instead of twice a day bucket feeding,” asserts Alistair

“Time saved that is better spent ensuring high husbandry standards are maintained. The Volac Vario+ can feed up to 80 calves from two feeding stations though with an added station it could feed 120 calves in a system as close to nature as one can imagine. Just as on the cow each calf, once identified as entitled to milk, can come forward to drink a little and often when hungry.

“Though, unlike on the cow you are kept fully informed about how much is drunk, when and how often. This Volac machine, having the ability to flag up on the controls, on your computer and on your mobile phone the number of any calf going off its feed and thus off colour. Any slowing in the daily speed at which a calf drinks, as we all know, is a sure sign of a problem looming. “Thus there are fewer deaths and fewer ailments leading to improved livestock performance once a Volac Vario + is installed. A long lasting and reliable machine backed by our Volac 24 – 7 support service based in Northern Ireland.!

“Remember, the Volac Vario+ from Förster-Technik is the first and only computerised calf feeder to come with auto calibration, which ensures that no matter what happens, the amount of milk powder used in mixing remains absolutely standard. Vital for optimum performance and best use of milk powder right through to weaning.

Will Sinclair, Volac, left, explains the operation of the Forster Technik Calf Feeder to John McConville and sons Oisin and Niall from Rathfriland. Picture: Columba O'Hare

“The Vario+ minimises power usage and has a transparent powder hopper, which is simple to keep level and clean as well as offering improved protection against moisture.”

Continuing Alistair Sampson suggested that a Volac Vario+ Förster-Technik feeder has a much faster pay back time than most pieces of farm equipment.. A typical machine in the £6000 to £8000 range generating savings and extra income to repay the cost in under three years – and that from a piece of equipment, which can last 20 years!

“Time is a scarce commodity in farms so take control of calf rearing by installing the best value machine on the market.

“Why waste more hours by failing to invest in Europe’s most popular feeder, the Volac Vario+ from Förster-Technik? A proven machine ideal for feeding Volac calf milk powers manufactured in this country from concentrated, home produced milk protein.”

For more info on calf feeding contact Volac NI manager Alistair Sampson tel; 078606 26442 or browse to www.volac.com

“The Volac Vario+ from Förster-Technik is the first and only computerised calf feeder to come with auto calibration,” Alistair Sampson.


Almost 300 milk producers viewed the recently launched Volac Vario+ computerised calf feeding system during the Newtownards farm walk hosted by the Rankin family and their award winning manager Chris Catherwood. Chris, who share farms with Jason Rankin, won the Vario+ manufactured by Förster-Technik when judged all island of Ireland ‘2011 Heifer Rearer of the Year.’ A prestigious event organized by Volac in association with AFBI and CAFRE.

ìThe Volac Vario+ from Forster-Technik is the first and only computerised calf feeder to come with auto calibration - Alistair Sampson.    PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA

“This machine, designed and manufactured in Germany by Förster-Technik, is a major step forward in automation, animal management and feeding hygiene,” explained guest speaker David Allan, Volac Scotland manager, who revealed that 323 Volac computerised calf feeders are already in use on Scottish farms. “No surprise I suspect to progressive Ulster farmers given that the oldest computerised calf feeder still in use here is well over 20 years old and has only had one major part replaced in rearing calves for two decades!

“With the average dairy heifer costing around £1300 to rear through to calving maximising her lifetime performance has a massive impact on the return from this investment.

“A typical NI dairy cow produces 27,600 litres in her lifetime so given the current value of culls the cost of heifer rearing is about 2.9p per litre of milk she produces. A cost that can be curtailed by reducing rearing costs and boosting her lifetime output.

“Moving to a modern computerised calf system from Volac as a means of achieving the target ‘live weight for age’ plays a key role in achieving both these objectives.

 Pictured during the Newtownards farm walk hosted by the Rankin family. PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA

“Remember, research at AFBI Hillsborough has high-lighted the return on getting Holstein Friesian heifers into calf earlier to calving down at 24 months weighting 550 to 580kg with condition score 2.75 to 3.00.

“Calving at this moderate weight rather than several months later at 600kg plus was shown to have improved fertility and reduced the incidence of lameness. These younger, lighter heifers coming into the dairy herd also tended to live longer and produce more milk over a lifetime.

“All reasons for milk producers to place much greater emphasis on how heifers are brought forward into the herd by adopting the 21st century computerised calf rearing system most used and best proven across these islands and across Europe, the Volac Vario+ from Förster-Technik. “Anything else is simply second best!” 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012 16:04

 Cereals are sown, reseeding is well underway and silage making is about to begin making this a peak time for machinery use.

A time when the shrewd farmer or contractor has tractors and implements fully serviced to minimise costly down time lost though breakdowns. Time is money in any business and even more so in the business of farming where a missed window of good weather damages the quality of crop saved, be it silage or cereals!

“Servicing before silage cutting starts must also include checking you have the correct insurance cover for the job in hand and the ages of those operating your equipment,” advises Desi Dick at Crumlin Insurance Partnership.

“Then if accident, fire or theft occurs you have the correct cover to help get back to work fast, minimising down time at the least possible financial cost. “At CIP Insurance Brokers we have been writing our market leading Farm Fleet Policy for many years and keep on improving it with many built in added features. This one policy covers all the many vehicle types on a typical farm today, from a quad to a 400 horse power tractor, 4X4s, family cars and pick up trucks.

“A very important feature is the detached and attached trailer and implement cover to a value of £30,000. The CIP Farm Fleet Policy is popular province wide simply because we have made it ideal for NI farmers and contractors,” added Desi.

“Premiums can be paid monthly by direct debit and the more vehicle sections on the policy the more competitive the premium. “

No wonder the idea of one tidy package of easy to understand cover for all farm vehicles at low premiums, plus our generous trailer and implement cover makes the CIP Farm Fleet Policy a firm favourite province wide.”

Before the seasonal silage rush puts pressure on men and machinery call CIP Crumlin tel; (028) 9442 2880 or CIP Crumlin tel; (028) 9332 3646 and speak to an experience local agricultural underwriter, who can also arrange farm property and liability cover.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012 16:00

 ‘CASH back in your hand’, an eye catching offer from CIP Insurance Brokers is proving popular with farming families says Hilda Aiken, pictured, of the specialist farm policy providers.

Hilda Aiken, CIP

“Like all good ideas our cash back scheme is simple and straight forward, simply ask CIP to write you a new farm-fleet or farm combined insurance policy and get handed £25 or £50 in real money!” Hilda explained.

“Launched at the RUAS Winter Fair this cash back offer on cover for farms province wide has kept our phones ringing. The days of simply staying with the same old staid national insurance groups are over. Nowadays farmers know it pays to shop around for better polices at realistic rates and at CIP Insurance Brokers they find the local expertise to trawl the market for best value.”

To control your insurance costs and get cash back contact CIP tel; (028) 9442 2880

Ulster Bank Seminar
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 15:32


CAP proposals from the European Commission are based on the existing budget, but could well generate a lot more bureaucracy for farmers! Worse still, the new Common Agricultural Policy proposed by Farm Commissioner Ciolos talks of meeting possible food security threats, yet it wants 7% of arable land and temporary grassland taken out of food production!

Lyle, Florence and Andrew Mackey from Antrim enjoy refreshments with David Kelly, right from Ulster Bank after the conference.

 The cost to national governments and hard pressed taxpayers of administering this huge new ball of red tape is not even considered an issue at a time of cuts to schools and hospitals!

Above all, these initial proposals, described as ‘unworkable’ by UFU President John Thompson, could see farm output curtailed – if implemented in their present form.

Just some of the concerns many farmers took away from the Ulster Bank seminar addressed by Norman Fulton, Head of Policy and Economics at DARD. In a masterly resume of current proposals from the EU Farm Commissioner, Norman Fulton noted that the existing CAP budget would not grow. The UK share of the farm support budget would be unchanged or even marginally increased, but, surprisingly, many new members states in Eastern Europe would be little better off.

Equally puzzling to many at the Ulster Bank event was the plan to replace the one Single Farm Payment with four or even six separate annual payments! Existing SFP entitlements will disappear at the end of 2013, with only those who claimed SFP in 2011 eligible for new payments.

Norman Fulton explained that the new CAP aimed to put approx 60% of funds into a basic farm payment, another 30% going on ‘green’ measures and up to 2% on young new entrant farmer support. The remainder could be split between options to aid those in less favoured areas or to provide coupled support payments, and there will also be small farmer scheme, “Major decisions have to be made on this reform package in Brussels by farm ministers from the 27 member nations and the European Parliament”, the DARD policy chief added.

“Aside from the role of farm ministers, both finance ministers and Heads of State must agree the overall budget at a time of economic turmoil.” Thus the, perhaps, well founded speculation that any new policy agreed will not impact on NI farming until 2015, a year later than planned.

“Once the overall package is agreed at EU level, we will then move to considering the range of implementation options that will be available to us at regional level. I expect this to stimulate a lot of debate before final decisions are taken.”

The Ulster Bank guests heard that the proposed move to a flat rate payment per hectare will lead to a major redistribution of support. Some of the options around this would put more funds towards disadvantaged areas, leaving lowland milk, beef and sheep producers facing an average payment reduction of a third!

The issue of how to allocate a limited budget could well divide farming opinion. As the budget is being relentlessly eaten away by inflation, some in the audience wondered if there could even come a time when some lowland milk producers found this successor to Single Farm Payments no longer worth applying for? Their real value could drop to the point where coping with associated red tape and greening restrictions might not be worth the bother. For example, proposed new cross compliance rules aimed at reducing carbon emissions might mean that permanent pasture more than five years old could not be ploughed. The risks to our efficient grass based NI milk, beef and lamb sectors were all too clear - as were the implications of a proposal that any farm with more than 3ha of arable crop must have at least three different crop types. Norman Fulton pointed out that a dairy farmer growing, for example, 10ha of maize or wholecrop wheat would have to grow two other types of arable crops, with no more than 70% going into any one crop.

Asked if wild bird cover could be one of the three crops, Norman said this was not yet known, nor was the role, if any, of wild bird cover as part of the 7% of land that in not permanent pasture to be taken out of production.

Clearly, as ever, with European legislation, the devil will be in the detail and in how it is applied by different member nations and at regional level in larger states such as the UK, Germany and Spain.

Asked about slipper versus active farmers Norman noted that as currently proposed, many inactive land owners in NI would not be denied support. Those smaller claimants drawing less than €5000 of support - some 45% of claimants in Northern Ireland - would not be included in any active versus inactive test. DARD might end up having to check the accounts of over 21,000 farmers to ensure they were entitled to these successors to Single Farm Payment. As regards a possible cap on support going to any one claimant, this would impact on only five or maybe 10 holdings here.

Details of the CAP proposals and possible options for NI as regards how a payment pot might be allocated are available on the DARD website. Already the often diverse views of farmers are being sought by decision makers not only in Northern Ireland, but at UK and EU level. Rarely has the need to bring the reality of making a living from the land to the political arena been so urgent.


“Farmers ‘too busy’ to provide accurate records of how money was spent may pay extra tax unnecessarily”, accountant William Henry told milk producers at the Ulster Bank Farm Finance Event.

“Ensuring invoices accurately describe just what you have invested in is time well spent with, potentially, a huge impact on how much tax a farm business pays.

From left, Conor McNeill, Ann Calwell, Anne-Marie McCusker, Mark Johnston, Rhonda McClelland and Stephen Kane from Ulster Bank attended the recent Ulster Bank Dairy Conference at Greenmount.

“Since 6 April 2011, Agricultural Buildings Allowances have been abolished ending tax relief on new sheds, totally new concrete and tarmac lanes and yards as well as new farmhouses and walls,” added William, a partner with Chartered Accountants, Moore Stephens.

“When investing in your farm business always obtain clear invoices that let your accountant decide under which of these three categories expenditure falls:-

  1. Repairs and Renewals, which allow full Income Tax Relief as an expense in the farm’s Profit and Loss Account. 
  2. Plan and Machinery, qualifying for Capital Allowances and Income Tax Relief at once or over time.  
  3. Buildings and Agricultural Improvements, that almost certainly offers no Tax relief. 

 “This means, for example, when building a new milking parlour you need clear separate invoices for the outer skeleton of the building, attracting no Tax Relief, and for the milking equipment, gates, slats, drainage channels etc installed, viewed as Plant and Machinery by HM Revenue & Customs and thus qualifying for Capital Allowances and Tax reductions!

“Get clear and accurate paperwork from builders and suppliers before you pay them as unscrambling incorrectly prepared invoices months or years later is, in my experience, a forlorn hope!” William advised.

“Splitting invoices between for example a cattle shed and its internal fittings,(gates, feed barriers etc, for what contractors see as ‘the one job’ may seem a waste of time to them, but for your farm business this extra paperwork generates smaller tax bills.”

As regards Repairs and Renewals, he noted that this includes:-

Re-roofing Sheds.

Re-flooring silos on top of an existing surface.

Re-concreting and tarmacing yards or lanes on top of existing surfaces.

Replacing roofs, guttering etc due to wind or snow damage.

Drainage on land where blocked drains already exist and there is no element of improvement.

“If possible, it is best to have a regular pattern of some repairs each year” the Limavady based Agricultural Accountant suggested.

“Above all, work with your Accountant not just to return tax forms in time, but equally important to achieve peace of mind as regards future tax liabilities for your farm business and your family.”




Since the demise of EU export refunds and the reduction in intervention support, milk prices have swung through cyclical highs and lows, with recent dairy produce prices being the highest since the 2007 peak.

Even though EU milk prices have been enjoying a recovery, international dairy commodity prices have been gradually weakening since March as a result of higher global milk production,. The recently announced reduction in the Fonterra projected milk price for 2011/12 was a further sign of deteriorating international dairy markets. There is however a reasonable chance that the cyclical fall in milk prices feared by some for 2012/13 will be largely avoided. This was the assessment from Dr David Dobbin in a fast paced presentation to a packed Ulster Bank financial seminar for dairy farmers. “

Average Northern Ireland farm gate prices have remained ahead of those in GB for most of 2010 & 2011. In recent months GB milk prices have finally started to catch up with those in NI, which is good news as it will help under pin returns for consumer dairy products in the UK market just as international returns are falling back. Consumer products are now regaining their price premium over international dairy commodity prices, especially over powder and butter. New Zealand, Australia and Argentina are all seeing a significant jump in milk production over last year and this surge in milk output coupled with lower demand from China and Russia is resulting in falling international powder and butter prices.”

“In the long term the growing world population and rising affluence in emerging economies in Asia and South America will result in good demand growth for dairy products. However in the short term the ending of EU quotas in 2015 and the expansion plans in Ireland and other EU countries will threaten EU milk price stability. I am pleased to say that the local dairy industry has improved its competitiveness over the last 10 years. Not only are our farmers and processors more efficient than ever before, but they are well able to compete against their RoI neighbours, especially in the nearby GB market of over 60 million consumers. Since deregulation in 1995, milk production in NI has grown by a third, but in the Republic by only 3% because of quota constraints. Thus the Irish government is keen to make up for lost time and has announced a drive to expand its dairy output by 50% by 2020.”

Dr Dobbin did not accept the view held by some that the Irish ambitions for growth in their Harvest 2020 report were overstated. “I firmly believe that the Irish can grow their milk pool by 50% by producing more milk in the winter and increasing milk yields from the current 4,750 litres per cow to nearer the NI average of 6,585 litres,” he said. “They also need to follow the example of NI farmers as regards moving to larger herd sizes and using better genetics, nutrition and grassland management.”

“Average dairy productivity in the Southern Irish industry is currently well behind that in Northern Ireland but with quota constraints removed the Irish dairy industry is likely to expand quickly. This growth will materialise when quotas end in 2105. I would expect to see RoI milk output grow by over 15% in 2015 and thereafter by a more sustainable 5% per annum.”

“Clearly this will increase competition in dairy markets, especially in the UK and Ireland, and the recent weakening in the Euro will further improve RoI dairy industry competitiveness. The recent Southern Irish campaign promoting dairy products that are farmed and processed in RoI was a clear attempt to lock NI diary products out of the ROI market in a way many find reprehensible.”

Dr Dobbin did however highlight the sharp fall in consumer confidence across the 500 million strong population in the EU market as the result of the recent economic and currency crises. Consumers are more price conscious than previously was the case and the NI dairy industry has to continue to be as efficient and low cost as possible.“ Dairy markets remain over crowded and we must continue to improve our products and better market the superb quality of produce coming out of NI. In Dale Farm we launched 47 new products last year, more than ever before and we won 27 international awards for the quality of our cheese and butter products. Dale Farm has also successfully invested in whey protein processing capability and is enjoying significant export sales growth for its whey products. In the dairy industry no one can afford to sit still for long and United Dairy Farmers and Dale Farm are strengthening their market position and processing capability ahead of the expected surge in RoI dairy production in 2015. Our number one priority is to ensure a good long term home for our members’ milk.”

“Some suggest a price fall next year, but hopefully any weakening will not be on the scale of 2009 as worldwide stocks of dairy products are still relatively low. Remember that while NI milk production has increased dramatically in recent years, overall UK milk output has actually fallen. GB is not self sufficient in dairy products and offers good opportunities for NI produce, which is British.”

The United Dairy Farmers’ Group Chief Executive finished by adding the rider that, as CAP reforms come fully into place in the dairy sector, farmers no longer have any realistic milk price safety net with intervention only offering around 18 pence per litre return. “Quotas, export refunds and intervention support are passing into history. Going forward prices will be set by supply and demand with price the main determinant of output. The ability of the NI dairy industry to be economically sustainable and viable in the long term now largely depends on local producers and processors remaining internationally competitive and best in class.” 


“Finance is available to help fund growing farm businesses as the Ulster Bank team continue to expand their agricultural lending,” the good news from senior agricultural manager Cormac McKervey, welcoming milk producers to a farm finance seminar at Greenmount College, reports Rodney Magowan.

“At the Ulster Bank we are keen to play our part in helping viable farm businesses grow. Those with a track record of success, a sound financial base and, above all, the ambition to take their farm forward will find the Ulster Bank an attractive partner.

“In the bank we view agriculture as an industry with great potential and one of the most successful in our local economy. The ability of Northern Ireland Agriculture plc to compete is well demonstrated in the expanding dairy sector where profitable market share has been won and held across these islands and far beyond.

The Ulster Bank senior agricultural manager noting that, “while legislators, farmers and others in the sector try to assess the effects of CAP reform , one stark fact faces us all. Of the seven billion people on our planet one in every seven, a billion, do not get enough to eat.

“From 2020 onwards food security, even for western Europe, could be a huge issue! Thus at the Ulster Bank we are ready to play a very practical part in helping farm businesses grow, produce more food and maximise margins,” Cormac McKervey affirmed.

“To finance your future success contact the Ulster Bank agricultural team through our local branch or tel; 07766 07 1008. We are open for business.”


Too many farming folk only think of their accountant come Christmas and the need to have Tax Returns completed by 31 January.

Yet seeking the advice of your farm accountant before and during making investment decisions can save angst and income.

This was one of the clear conclusions from William Henry’s address to milk producers at the Ulster Bank Farm Finance Event, where good record keeping and tax efficient investment was emphasised.

Using your Accountant’s expertise year round on topics as varied as selecting a new car, pick-up or four-wheel drive, leasing out or developing a wind turbine site could cut Tax bills.

“In the eyes of HM Revenue & Customs, some vehicles are not cars but plant attracting Capital Allowances and on which VAT can also be reclaimed in full. Examples include commercial four-wheel drives with nether windows nor seats behind the driver, double cab pick-ups with a payload under a tonne and of course, the traditional Land Rover 90.

“When it comes to selecting a new car, perhaps for the use of your spouse or offspring working in the farm business, remember an Accountant can again advise. Certainly, the 100% first year Capital Allowance on cars with low carbon emission, less than 110g/km, is attractive. Cars falling inside this tax ruling to encourage greener driving include some VW Golfs and Vauxhall Astras (see www.carfueldata.direct.gov.uk).

“As with virtually every investment in a farm business, making that call to an accountant who understands agriculture will leave more money in the business after tax liabilities have been honestly met.”


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