OPINION: Publisher Stuff and lobby group Federated Farmers both like to preach about their respective high-minded virtues – Stuff, about “funding journalism”, Feds about “supporting our farming communities”.
The scheme requires creditors to offer mediation to farmers who default on payments before they take any enforcement action.
Federated Farmers says the scheme is one farmers would hope to never have to use, but it’s a useful backstop if a farm’s finances do go pear-shaped.
"We strongly supported this legislation as it was shaped and debated by the select committee and Parliamentary processes over the last year or so and we’re glad it’s now in place," says Federated Farmers president and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.
The Federated Farmers May 2020 Banking Survey showed more than 80% of farms carry a mortgage and overdraft.
While 69% of the 1,400 farmers who responded were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their banks, 19% felt ‘under pressure’ from their banks, rising to 28% among arable farmers.
"It’s an uneven playing field in terms of available resources when a farmer and bank are in dispute. This legislation provides a platform for mediated communication," says Hoggard.
"Although we hope it won’t have to be used very often, it will have done its job if it helps banks and farmers find enduring and sustainable solutions before it is too late."
Farmers wishing to access the scheme should visit the MPI website.