Don't let financial worries turn to crisis

2016 was a difficult year across all sectors with poor prices hitting farm businesses and farm families hard.

This time last year we were waiting with baited breath on the outcome of the EU Referendum and now face the uncertainty of Brexit.

Despite this, the early payment of 70% of the Single Farm Payment in October, the milder Autumn and Winter weather and slightly improved market prices seems to have lifted the mood of farmers.

For some the early payment helped ease cashflow and allowed for the payment of outstanding bills. But by this point the money has most probably been swallowed up by numerous creditors and many are still facing financial issues and pressures which require more than a quick fix. In some cases lenders may be applying pressure as the end of the financial year approaches. The root problems have not disappeared.

With the financial year end fast approaching, Rural Support is urging farmers to consider their financial position and the long term implications of any financial decisions made without proper planning or guidance. These decisions could lead to negative and detrimental outcomes for the whole farm family. Forward planning is key.

For those experiencing financial difficulties, now might be the time to ask for help from Rural Support. Its experienced farm business mentors are able to provide free, face to face support with debt, the farm business and planning effectively for the future. With help from a professional mentor, you could be supported to identify the issues causing you financial stress and take action to address them. The sooner you seek support, the more options you could have to improve the situation.

Farmers spend long hours working alone with little or no human contact, which can allow for the stress of these issues to fester and things can escalate very quickly if it is not addressed. Very often not only will the farmer be impacted but family members are affected too. The stress of the situation can lead to strain on relationships within the family. Family members perhaps avoid the topic as they may worry they would say the wrong thing. They may even blame each other for the situation, leading to a sense of tension and resentment between family members. Often individuals try to deal with it by themselves and perhaps never tell family members the full extent of the situation which can lead to feelings of isolation and increased pressure. Rural Support mentors are very conscious of the impact on family members and their focus is on the wellbeing of the whole family unit.

Clodagh Crowe, Support Service Co-ordinator commented: “We would urge farm family members experiencing financial stress to pick up the phone and call us. The sooner you get support, the sooner you can take control of the issues and find a way forward. There are always options to find a way forward. Too often farmers are waiting until the eleventh hour to ask for support and financial problems can quickly turn to crises.”

If you are struggling you are encouraged to call the helpline now on 0845 606 7 607. Rural Support could help ease the burden of dealing with financial stress and help you identify options and a way forward. To speak to someone in confidence contact the helpline on 0845 606 7 607. The helpline is available from 8am-11pm, seven days a week (voicemail and support options available at all other times).

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