Initiative for struggling farmers launches

It will help fund practical financial advice for those under pressure.
It will help fund practical financial advice for those under pressure. Photo credit: Getty

A new initiative funded by banks and the Government has been launched to help support farmers struggling with farm debt.

The Government has allocated $200,000 for the Farm Business Advice Support Fund, to be managed by Rural Support Trusts (RSTs).

For a qualifying farmer the fund will provide up to $6000 to pay for financial or business advice from an independent consultant.

The national council of RSTs and New Zealand Bankers' Association have recently signed the agreement for the fund. 

Under the agreement, the RSTs will provide up to $3000, depending on an assessment of need, and the relevant bank will match that dollar for dollar.

RSTs national council chair Neil Bateup said the fund is for farmers who are feeling pressure. 

"This might be because there's been some change or their bank has indicated they need to discuss their debt situation. The hope is that there may still be options available so that the wishes of all parties can form a solution for going forward," said Bateup.

"There's a recognition it's in everyone's best interest for a farmer to have up-to-date business and financial plans," said New Zealand Bankers' Association chief executive Roger Beaumont. 

"This will inform conversations between the farmer and their bank."

RSTs will take an application from, or on behalf of, a farmer who might qualify for assistance.

The consultant will provide a report, which will be given to the farmer and their bank.

This initiative involves ASB, ANZ, BNZ, Heartland Bank, Rabobank, SBS Bank, TSB and Westpac.