Rose Mary McDonagh, Chair of the IFA Farm Business Committee, advised farmers to take steps to ensure they have cashflow on farms and maintain their good credit history.
She said, “The impact of Covid-19 is unprecedented – and is being felt from farm families up to a global level. There is so much to deal with and so many different ways we are being asked to adapt, all of which are causing problems and stress on farms. It is vitally important to contact your bank if your income is being affected by Covid-19, or you think it will be”.
“There are supports from the banks. Increased working capital and overdraft are being provided, in addition to payment flexibility on loan facilities including repayment breaks on interest and/or capital for an initial period of up to three months. Do not simply stop direct debits for loan repayments or exceed your overdraft limit without talking to them first. Doing so could affect your credit history and in a worst-case scenario, your borrowings could be classified as a non-performing loan.”
IFA has been in dialogue with the banks, stressing the need for flexibility and supports to ensure there is cashflow on farms. Also, that farmers are being advised about the loan breaks available, as well as options to take out low-cost loans if needed, rather than expensive overdrafts. IFA has information regarding finance matters, as well as bank contact numbers, available on the Association’s Covid-19 web hub.
The banks are receiving a massive influx of calls, making it frustrating for customers trying to get through, but they have told IFA that staff have been redeployed to help deal with the backlog.
The Farm Business Chair stressed that farmers need to prioritise making that call.
She concluded, “Banks must help keep the confidence in agriculture. The land will still be here, the farmers will still be working, Covid-19 will pass and we will get through this”.