Financial forward planning key

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In recent months we have seen an improvement in market prices across all sectors, when compared to the same period in 2016.

Coupled with the good weather, which has enabled farmers to get on with the work at hand, the mood within the farming community seems to have improved.

Profitability and market volatility still remain the two biggest issues facing farmers. Over the last few years volatility in the prices paid to farmers for their produce has caused significant problems for the industry. Although DAERA reported that the Total Income From Farming increased by twenty-two percent in 2016, there is long established debt for many farm businesses, which was borrowed to help deal with the difficult number of trading years for farm businesses.

The increase in market prices may help ease cashflow but it will take some time for this increase to really benefit farmers and to make a significant impact on their borrowings and pocket. Farmers need to examine their cashflow position over the coming months to manage funds effectively – forward planning is key. It is important that this money is utilised wisely and not simply swallowed up by those creditors who shout loudest.

Rural Support have observed through the one to one support provided to farm businesses of all types and sizes, that the problems being experienced by those under severe financial stress were not just the result of poor market prices. An absence of planning and adequate professional advice was and is also contributing to decisions being made that can have detrimental effects in the future, should the financial or personal circumstances of the farm family change.

We would urge farmers to consider not just the short term outcomes of choices made now but the longer term implications of financial decisions made without proper planning which could have a serious impact on the whole farm family should circumstances change or external factors come into play.

For those currently experiencing financial pressure, now may be the right time to ask for help from Rural Support. Experienced farm business mentors are available to provide free, one to one support with debt, the farm business and planning for the future. Good weather conditions and improved market prices for some have perhaps made it easier to bury the longer standing issues which have contributed to financial pressure. But remember, the root problems won’t have disappeared and the sooner steps are taken to address this position the better.

There are many factors impacting farm businesses today including low incomes, regulations, adverse weather, rising costs and the uncertainty as to what lies ahead both in the short-term and post Brexit. Farming is a lonely occupation and the stress caused by these issues can weigh heavily on a farmer’s mental health and this can impact the rest of the farm family. Rural Support mentors are very conscious of this and their focus is on the wellbeing of the whole family unit. Support from a mentor is completely confidential so discussions can be open and honest.

If you are struggling, for whatever reason, we would encourage you 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 to find a way forward. The sooner you make that call, the better for you, your family and the farm business.

To speak to someone in confidence contact our helpline on 0845 606 7 607. The helpline is available from 8am to 11pm seven days a week (voicemail and support options available at all other times).

Rural Support