21 Jan 2016

Farmers encouraged to talk to banks

3:43 pm on 21 January 2016

South Island farmers who may be struggling as a result of continued drought conditions should talk with their bank, the Bankers Association says.

Canterbury, Marlborough and parts of Otago were declared to be in drought a year ago and yesterday Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy extended the official drought period for another six months.

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The Bankers Association is encouraging drought-stricken farmers to talk to their banks Photo: 123rf.com

Farmers facing hardship due to ongoing dry conditions should contact their bank to discuss options for assistance, and Bankers' Association chief executive Kirk Hope was encouraging them to do so.

"The earlier you talk to your bank the more options you have available for restructuring your loan or suspending your interest payments, things like that, so the bank is able to work with you," Mr Hope said.

"The key point for any farmers who are struggling or feel they are about to face financial difficulty is to talk to their bank as soon as possible. And I understand that they may not feel like doing that but it absolutely enables them to have the most options available."

Mr Hope said banks had not massively increased their provisioning - where banks set aside a certain amount for a loan loss from farming clients.

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

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