Calls for farmers to get unique finance restructuring solutions to avoid being 'destroyed'

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Irish farmers face losing their farms, as more and more loans are sold to vulture funds, and they need a specific set of restructuring solutions, the Chief Executive of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation has said.

David Hall wrote in today's Sunday Business Post that the Irish farming community faces 'farmageddon' if more farm-related debt is passed on to vulture funds.

He says that banks currently control much of Ireland's farm-related debt, but that many of these loans may be sold to vulture funds, "with disastrous consequences for rural families and communities".

Mr Hall goes on to say that with over 30,000 family home loan accounts are in arrears by two years or more, but that farm families are "worst affected".

"For a farmer in mortgage arrears, it is not just the family home that is at risk; it also includes the family business, income and livelihood, often for a number of family members."

He writes that agri-lending was very attractive to banks in boom times, but that the value of sites and land may not now cover that debt.

Farm families, he said, have a unique set of issues including the fact that the family home is often on the farm and may have been handed down from parents.

Farmers, he says, need a specific set of restructuring solutions such as annual payments, which would take account of seasonality; family members been given first refusal to buy assets at market value; and allowing family members to contribute to payments.

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Mr Hall also says that borrowers who don't engage with their lenders on their debt will end up, sooner rather than later, having their loans sold to vulture funds and he calls for "concerted, organised and professional action" to be taken by affected farmers now.

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