Farm Ireland

Tuesday 19 June 2018

'Extreme pressure is being put on farmers' - Vulture funds swoop on debt farms

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Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Farming families are losing their land as vulture funds swoop on indebted properties bought during the height of the Celtic Tiger.

Foreign vulture funds that bought up large swathes of distressed Irish loans have significantly ramped up their pursuit of borrowers.

It comes as various foreign-based funds and investors - often referred to as "vulture funds" - that bought distressed Irish loans during the crash, crank up their activities in the courts.

The number of debt enforcement cases being taken in the High Court by major funds has increased tenfold.

According to representatives of the farming community, those with loans acquired by vulture funds have come under mounting pressure in recent months.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), said he knows of "hugely distressing" individual stories of farmers losing their land.

"In the vast majority of cases, the farm was in the family for generations. The reality is that it wasn't the farming business that brought them down. During the boom there were off-farm investments which didn't work out, and the collateral of the farm was caught up in it. But in many cases the farming business was still viable, and it would have made more sense for the State and the taxpayer, if a workable solution was found, to keep them in their business.

"Extreme pressure is being put on farmers now."

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