Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

'Banks are not allowing indebted farmers sell sites to their children'

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

It has been claimed that banks are not allowing indebted farmers to sell sites to their children.

In a Seanad Debate this week, independent Senator, Frances Black (the former singer) was extremely critical of financial institutions and their interaction with farmers.

She said in rural Ireland, “farms are being repossessed and lands that have been in families for generations are being sold off by vulture funds”.

According to Black, some banks are selling off agricultural debts to multinational property asset companies which she said “subsequently demand immediate payment of moneys owed”.

“Fears are growing that an entire generation of farmers could be wiped out, stalling hopes of a sustainable rural recovery.

“Vast tracts of lands are now in the hands of vulture funds and farmers are under immense pressure. When farmers lose their land, they not only lose an asset but also their income,” Black warned.

Frances Black
Frances Black

Black also claimed that another serious issue which is emerging is the refusal of banks to release sites to the sons or daughters of farmers who are paying off a loan.

She also highlighted that the stress and anxiety experienced by these farmers has led to ‘countless suicides’.

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“We need to highlight the number of suicides that are directly linked to financial pressures from banks and financial institutions chasing their own debts.

“Last weekend the Sunday Independent published the findings of a national survey of the mental turmoil associated with debt, which were just scandalous.

“It talked about how 44pc of participants felt depressed either all or most of the time. Over 30pc said they had had suicidal thoughts in the previous four weeks, while 22pc admitted they had active plans to kill themselves, which is shocking. A total of 45pc indicated they consumed harmful levels of alcohol.

“The situation cannot be allowed to continue,” she said.

Black question whether the Government has any plan to implement strict legislation to regulate vulture funds which she said the activities of which will wipe out a generation of farmers.

“Young people lose interest in farming when they see the stress and anxiety their parents are suffering.

“It will spell the destruction of rural communities and be a further drain on mental health services.

“Banks are acting in a manner that is not acceptable in piling stress and misery on embattled," he said.

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