Repossessions of farm machinery 'to get worse'
Machinery repossessions have increased tenfold over the past 12 months as the banks turn the screw on farm contractors struggling with repayments. And things are set to get worse this year, according to Tom Murphy of the Professional Agricultural Contractors' (PAC) association.
"We dealt with 40 serious cases in the second half of last year," said Mr Murphy. "But 10 cases have already crossed our desk during the first two weeks of 2012."
He is also concerned that the crews that carry out repossessions are flouting the law.
"Farmers and contractors still have rights, even if they are in arrears on repayments," he said.
"For example, no repossession company can break locks or fences to seize machines. The lenders must also issue a termination notice which the repossession crews are obliged to show when they arrive to lift a machine."
Mr Murphy has been appalled by the scenarios that have been outlined to him by those affected.
"A call just this morning outlined how a repossession crew arrived at a contractor's premises without any official paperwork and proceeded to cut the locks on the gates only to replace them with new locks when they were finished."
Felix O'Regan, of the Irish Banking Federation, said many of these situations could have been avoided if there had been more "open and constructive engagement" between the parties involved.