Wednesday, 27 January 2016 10:55

Banks extend a helping hand

Written by  Pam Tipa
ANZ is committing an extra $20 million to its drought assistance package. ANZ is committing an extra $20 million to its drought assistance package.

'Talk to your banks' is the message to South Island farmers facing continued drought conditions from the New Zealand Bankers' Association (NZBA).

The advice comes as ANZ has announced it is extending its assistance package to drought stricken South Island farmers.

NZBA chief executive Kirk Hope says banks recognise how important the agri-sector is to our economy.

"We encourage any farmers facing hardship due to ongoing dry conditions to contact their bank to discuss options for assistance and how they can work together through these challenging circumstances."

The NZBA has produced an information sheet on how banks can support and advise farmers facing financial challenges

"Banks work in partnership with farmers to support their businesses," says Hope.

"Rural bank managers work closely with their farming clients to understand individual situations and needs. Farmers who find themselves in financial difficulty as a result of the drought should speak with their bank as early as possible."

In addition to talking with their banks, farmers can also seek advice about managing through drought conditions from Rural Support Trusts, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says NZBA.

Meanwhile ANZ is extending its assistance package to South Island farmers affected by extreme dry conditions.

The bank will commit an additional $20 million to the assistance package, but will extend that if demand for help from farmers is high. ANZ launched the assistance package last January.

The announcement follows the Government extending its South Island drought declaration, which covers much of the South Island's east coast, until June 30, 2016.

"While farmers in some areas have welcomed rainfall recently, others are still grappling with extreme dry conditions that will impact the productivity of their farms for some time to come," says Troy Sutherland, ANZ's general manager southern commercial & agri.

"Extending our assistance package recognises that the financial impacts of drought continue long after rainfall – sometimes for years – and supports liquidity as farmers regrass and restock. The sooner capital expenditure is made after rainfall, the faster businesses will recover."

The options available to affected farmers through ANZ are:

Suspending loan principal repayments

Waiving fees associated with restructuring business loans considered necessary due to impacts of extreme weather

Waiving fees for term finance and investments which improve performance and the ability to respond to climatic variation in future years

Waiving the interest rate reductions associated with accessing funds on term deposits ahead of maturity date

Providing access to discounted short-term funding to help farmers get through the immediate challenges while also protecting their long-term productivity

Sutherland says the impacts of drought go beyond finances and are a major source of stress for some customers.

"Serious weather events cause significant challenges and anxiety. We urge farmers to communicate regularly with their family, advisors and support networks."


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