IFA Farm Business Chairman, Martin Stapleton, has written to the banks challenging them to engage actively with their farmer customers now, and to support them in tackling the short-term cashflow pressures that will be experienced by farmers across many sectors in 2016.
Mr Stapleton said, “We have made clear to the banks that they must support their farmer customers in 2016 through:
• extending working capital to farmers and the agri-supply sector;
• communicating early with customers;
• providing flexible and affordable restructuring options to alleviate cash-flow difficulties;
• providing term loan financing for past investments that have been previously financed by cashflow; and,
• taking prompt decisions on all loan applications”.
He added, “We have also made clear that the banks must provide the option for customers to convert their high-cost merchant credit into working capital or longer-term borrowing”.
He said, “There is a very important role for the banks to play in reducing the fears that customers may have about approaching their bank. I have made clear to the banks that they must be proactive in communicating with their farmer customers. In particular, I have asked them to write directly to their customers to alert them to the supports that are available, and to assure them that the bank is aware of the external factors contributing to the cashflow difficulties on farms this year.
Mr Stapleton concluded, “2016 is proving to be a very challenging year for cashflow on many farms. I am urging farmers to take stock of their financial position now, and engage early with the banks. Putting a plan in place now will reduce the stress and difficulties later in the year when income pressures mount”.