Farmers’ overdraft facilities must be maintained as they transition to a new bank after their Ulster Bank account has been closed, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said.

Banks need to understand that farmers are facing rapidly rising input and energy costs and provide them with an operational line of credit, said Rose Mary McDonagh, president of IFA Farm Business.

Speaking at a roundtable on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), she said farmers need their new bank to show a flexible and supportive approach as they try to navigate change which was imposed on them.

“Farmers will need to take steps to switch to their new finance provider, and I would encourage them to do so as soon as possible to avoid any unintended consequences.

“They will also need clear direction and support to make the transition/change process as seamless as possible,” she said.

The event was hosted by the Irish Banking and Payments Federation, where major financial institutions said following the announcement of Ulster Bank’s closure they had received unprecedented volumes of enquiries, which resulted in a number of backlogs.

These backlogs have been particularly prevalent among business checking accounts, where the number of authenticity requirements has delayed decisions.

Ulster Bank began issuing six-month notices in April this year, advising customers that their current and deposit accounts would be frozen from November 11. She also informed them that 30 days after that date, their accounts would be completely closed.

25 of the bank’s branches are due to close in January 2023 before reopening soon after as permanent TSB.

The bank announced that it had acquired the branches as well as the residential mortgage business of Ulster Bank, worth 6.2 billion euros, earlier this month.

Following the acquisition, the bank will welcome approximately 56,000 new residential mortgage customers, representing an increase of approximately 40%. It will also see 113 Ulster Bank staff join its ranks, split between Permanent TSB itself and service partner Pepper Finance.