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Opinion - No farm is more important than the people who make it tick

New analysis from the Prince’s Countryside Fund shows the extent the cashflow crisis is rippling through rural communities. Ben Briggs reminds farmers that help is always on hand.

Ben   Briggs

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Ben   Briggs
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Help always at hand

 

"Farming does not, nor ever has, existed in a bubble.

 

"The pressures of the current cashflow crisis do not just affect the farm itself, but also the wider rural business community reliant on those units, be it the contractor, feed merchant, agronomist, consultant, machinery dealer or bank, which is being asked for more money and more time.

 

"The Prince's Countryside Fund (PCF) analysis of the current situation, which Farmers Guardian has exclusively revealed this week, shows the extent to which the crisis is rippling through rural areas and coincides with the Tenant Farmers' Association call for understanding.

 

"But borrowed money and borrowed time can only last so long.

 

"Some farmers have told me of a shift in attitude from banks no longer willing to release extra cash for capital investments because of a negative balance sheet for last year, despite several years of profit before that.

 

"Whether that is part of the reason that PCF claims some farmers are turning to secondary leaders is not clear, but the move to potentially high interest loans is another toxic part of the mix.

 

"Some farm businesses are obviously teetering on the brink financially, that is well documented. But what is not always talked about, especially in agriculture, is the people behind the farmers who could themselves be staring in to the abyss.

 

"More than almost any other business sector, farming is about the people behind the balance sheet who make the enterprise, and quite often the local community, tick.

 

"With sometimes generations of family history invested in to the farm, the financial hardship being faced at the moment could be driving see to have desperate thoughts of their own.

 

"The reality, however, is that any one person is worth more than a farm, especially to their families and friends.

 

"If you know of someone struggling, emotionally or financially, then heeding the PCF's suggestion of turning to farming charities for help could be a positive step, and certainly not a sign of weakness."

 

- Ben Briggs

April 29, 2016

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