Eoin Lowry: Data key to farmers’ financial wellbeing

Bank of Ireland’s head of Agri Sector Eoin Lowry on the launch of FarmPro and the digital future of farming.

Agribusiness player Ifac and Bank of Ireland recently launched a next-generation digital financial management platform called FarmPro. In the video below, the bank’s head of Agri Sector Eoin Lowry talks to John Kennedy about why digital holds the key to the financial wellbeing of farmers.

Ifac, supported by Bank of Ireland, launched Farmpro with , with the objective of driving farm efficiency and significantly improving farm viability and sustainability.

“If farmers have the direct access to timely information it will allow them to make the right decisions and it gives them peace of mind”

FarmPro combines proven technology from Figured, a New Zealand-based agri software company, with up to date farm accounting data, and ifac financial management expertise.

The platform provides an up to date online financial position and forecasting service to farmers. This powerful combination of technology, up to the minute data and advice, puts farmers firmly in control of their finances. By combining the latest farm financial data from ifac’s book-keeping service, herd movements from the ICBF, and expert advice from ifac, FarmPro provides the insights farmers need to make profitable business decisions.

Better decision-making and peace of mind for farmers

Asked about what the platform is capable of Lowry explained: “It is essentially a farm management software package that allows farmers have up to the minute financial position of their farm and allows them to forecast and scenario-plan for future events on their farm. The aim of it is that it will deliver a simpler, more efficient lending experience through greater data-sharing and collaboaration between the farmer, accountant and the bank.”

Lowry joined Bank of Ireland earlier this year as head of Agri, to support the Bank’s growth strategy in the country’s largest indigenous industry. He has held a number of senior commercial positions in the agri sector in Ireland and abroad, including managing director of a leading fertilizer importer and manufacturer. His knowledge base extends across globally traded agri-commodities and includes driving productivity, managing volatility, adding value and developing business. He has provided extensive insight and analysis on the sector writing extensively on the subject as former agribusiness editor with the Irish Farmers Journal.

Asked why Bank of Ireland got behind the FarmPro initiative, Lowry explained: “The bank got involved for a number of reasons. The number one reason was in order to support and better support our customers through this technology. The second piece, I suppose, is around innovation. As a leading bank to farmers, we want to be seen to be leading the innovation agenda for the sector. The third one is around the simpler lending experience. Because FarmPro delivers a timely, relevant up to the minute data it allows those bankers to make better decisions around the farm and its future direction. And fourthly, by collaboration with Ifac it allowed us to enter into the market at scale and take advantage of first mover position. And I suppose it’s a real point of difference, because this is innovative technology that makes us different in the sector.”

Lowry explained that the technology is available to any farmer that is a customer of Ifac and bank of Ireland and the cost of the technology is subsidised.

Crucially, he explained, it is about ensuring the financial wellbeing of farmers. “If farmers have the direct access to timely information it gives them knowledge around the financial performance that will allow them to make the right decisions and it gives them peace of mind.

“We’ve conducted research where farmers have expressed the same concerns around what they wanted to know around where they stood at a period in time. This allows them to make better decisions and have more control over their finances,” Lowry said.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 10 July, 2020