Banks must help farm families maintain viable businesses

IFA President John Bryan has called on all banks to engage constructively with farmers and small businesses, whose debt levels are threatening the viability of otherwise sustainable businesses.

IFA President John Bryan has called on all banks to engage constructively with farmers and small businesses, whose debt levels are threatening the viability of otherwise sustainable businesses.

He said “IFA is promoting a loan-restructuring strategy with banks where farmers would agree to dispose of non-core assets, with the balance of the debt restructured to a level that ensures viability for the farm business and a living for the farm family.”

John Bryan added, “Only a few years ago the banks were falling over themselves to lend to businesses and with the benefit of hindsight, some of this lending was reckless. Now that asset values have collapsed, banks must be prepared to find realistic and long-term solutions for dealing with unsustainable debt burdens for farm businesses that otherwise have a viable future.”

The IFA President continued, “If we are to maintain jobs in agriculture and the wider food sector, the approach by the banks must safeguard businesses and allow them to continue.

“A heavy-handed legal approach must be the absolute last resort, as it benefits neither the bank nor the farmer. Where there is an underlying viable business, the priority must be to get a permanent solution. Farmers in financial difficulties will engage practically and constructively with their bank, but the banks must be prepared to do likewise,” he concluded.