'Farmers must stand together' - Farmer protest goes ahead despite online auction house halting sale of farmland

ICSA demonstrate at the offices of BidX1in Dublin today.
ICSA demonstrate at the offices of BidX1in Dublin today.
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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers today mounted a protest at the Dublin offices of online property trading platform BidX1 in opposition to the forced sale of lands.

Online auction house BidX1 last week halted the sale of farmland on its platform.

It followed an outcry against the sale of farms repossessed by so-called “vulture funds”.

“Due to a lack of an agreed framework between all parties on the sale of agricultural farmland, Bidx1, Ireland's largest property auction company, has decided to cease the sale of agricultural farmland until such time as there is an agreed framework in place,” Bid X1 said.

Speaking at the protest Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock said, “The farming community must stand together and send a clear message to vulture funds, and those who collaborate with them, that any attempt to sell distressed farmland will be met with community resistance.”

“Online property trading platforms don’t tell the full story. What you’re viewing is a product of the mistreatment of customers by banks initially and then by vulture funds.

"We have a situation whereby mainstream banks are continuing to sell off loans at an alarming rate, so we have an ever increasing number of families who find themselves having to deal with vulture funds with no choice in the matter,” he said.

Sherlock said he is encouraged by the statement from BidX1 that they have, for the time being, removed contentious lots from their site in advance to today’s protest.

"However, for that move to be viewed as anything more than a temporary knee jerk reaction, it needs to become a permanent policy.

“We know that farms have been and will continue to be included in portfolio sales of loans. We also know that these loans are usually secured by land deeds exceeding the value of the loan, making the prospect of a quick sale more attractive than negotiating a reasonable solution with borrowers.”

“We want BidX1, and all other such platforms, to be much more careful about putting land up for sale where it’s still possible for a compromise to be found and a deal concluded,"  he said.

Sherlock said his organisation believes that a reasonable negotiated settlement should always be considered the best option for everyone involved.

"We will continue to press for more regulation of the processes by which these loans are sold off in the first place and managed thereafter,” he said.

“It’s not easy dealing with new loan masters whose only interest is to profit from your distress but together we can make a difference and stand our ground," he said.

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