Large rise in judgments being sought by vulture funds over farmers' debts

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Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

There has been a large rise in the number of judgments being sought by vulture funds on farm-related debt, an agrifinance specialist has warned.

But farmers whose loans are in the hands of so-called vulture funds may be able to save both their family home and farms, through a personal insolvency arrangement (PIA).

"We've seen a huge increase in judgments being sought, receivers being appointed, and bankruptcy proceedings being brought in relation to farms and farm debt," Gary Digney told an ICMSA seminar on vulture funds, where he outlined how PIAs can work for farmers.

"In many cases, farmers simply want to repay their debts and just need time and an agreement with their lender," he said.

"Over the last number of years, it has proved impossible to reach agreements with banks (often due to not being able to speak to someone with the authority to reach an agreement) and now it is proving even more impossible to deal with investment funds or 'vulture funds'.

"We've seen a huge increase in judgements being sought, receivers being appointed, and bankruptcy proceedings being brought in relation to farms and farm debt.

"All of these strategies invariably seek to take the farm and lands from farmers, and as quickly as possible."

However, he said a PIA came with the benefit of court protection, and a personal insolvency partner (PIP) could propose an arrangement that capitalised any arrears on debts, extended the term of the loan, reduced the interest rate, and in certain cases reduced the debt.

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He also said the power of the PIA to keep people in their family homes and farms was tremendous and in certain circumstances the courts could force a PIA arrangement on a fund or bank.

Irish Independent


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