Every farmer has at one point or another, experienced financial hardships, and finding the right solution can be an overwhelming task.
Farm debt mediation is a relatively new concept in New Zealand, introduced in 2019 to assist farmers and banks in reaching an agreement during challenging financial periods. It's designed to bring both parties to the negotiation table and find the best pathway forward.
Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Richard McIntyre, a knowledgeable advocate for the agricultural sector, told REX host Dominic George that farm debt mediation was long overdue in New Zealand.
"What Farm debt mediation sets out to do is to help farmers and banks get around the table and discuss options so they could find the best pathway forwards when a farming business is in a difficult financial position," he said.
Despite being a solution to many farmers' financial woes, the Farm debt mediation process comes with its own set of costs. However, McIntyre points out that a hardship fund is available for those who might be deterred by the expense.
"There is a cost and it's very important to understand that.
"Equally, there is actually a hardship fund that can be applied for."
In a bid to help farmers better understand the process, McIntyre, alongside other experts, will be conducting a webinar on Tuesday, November 7th. This webinar will discuss what's involved, how to get the best out of the process, and when to request mediation.
"The webinar itself is designed to help farmers better understand the process.
"You know what's involved, how do you get the best out of it, so that they can, I guess, go into these situations with a lot of confidence in what the outcome is going to look like."
McIntyre recently attended the World Dairy Summit in Chicago. It was at this summit that he noticed a shared global concern over farming challenges, and the various innovative solutions being explored.
"It was really interesting to see that dairy farmers throughout the world share very similar problems to us.
"You know there's a lot more efforts, you know, going from processors and other farmer-facing groups to enable farmers to make the change, whereas we've relied a little bit more on Government regulation."
Farm debt mediation is an essential tool in the arsenal of a farmer facing a financial crisis. Through this process, farmers are given the opportunity to face their financial challenges head-on, and with the help of experts, chart a course to stability.
The upcoming webinar will surely be a wealth of information for anyone looking to better understand this process. Interested farmers and stakeholders are encouraged to join the webinar.
Listen to the full chat between Richard McIntyre and Dominic George above.