A $3.5 million programme aimed at helping Covid-19 affected workers into farming careers, has been launched.
The Farm Debt Mediation Scheme will require creditors to offer mediation to farmers who default on payments before they take any enforcement action, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
“Total farm debt in NZ is $62.8 billion – up 270% on 20 years ago. Farmers are especially vulnerable to business down-turns as a result of conditions that are often outside their control, like weather, market price volatility and diseases like Mycoplasma bovis and Covid-19,’’ says O’Connor.
“Farmers who operate a family business often don’t have the resources to negotiate their own protections when dealing with lenders. That’s where this scheme fits in – it supports the mental, emotional and financial wellbeing of farmers and farming families who find themselves in financial trouble.
“The scheme is about early intervention – where either the farmer or the bank have an ability to go and seek mediation, which is a far better option than forced foreclosure,” says O’Connor.
Two Approved Mediation Organisations, The Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ) and Resolution Institute (RI) have been appointed to deliver the scheme.
Farmers wishing to access the scheme should visit the MPI website.