Flexibility available for farmers on FCC loan payments

(Dave Bedard photo)

Farm Credit Canada says it remains willing to work around the various forces majeures standing between its farmer clients and their cash flows this year.

The Crown lending agency reiterated Monday it will work with customers “to come up with solutions for their operations on a case-by-case basis” in view of this spring’s weather worries and unrelated disruptions of farmers’ usual export markets.

Among said solutions, FCC said, it “will consider deferral of principal payments and/or other loan payment schedule amendments to reduce the financial pressure these pronounced circumstances may create.”

“While Canadian producers are among the most resilient in the world, this growing season has presented some exceptionally challenging circumstances for our customers,” FCC CEO Michael Hoffort said in a release.

“In some areas of the country it was too wet to finish planting, while in other areas the dry conditions are limiting crops and pastures.”

Apart from “adverse” weather that disrupted farming operations in parts of Canada last year and this spring, trade disruptions “have reduced access to some international markets, causing commodity price fluctuations and additional concern among producers,” the lender said.

More recently among such disruptions, Canada’s canola exports to China went off the rails this spring.

China had alleged pest problems when it blocked canola from two major Canadian grain firms in March, but diplomatic tensions have also risen between the two countries over the December arrest in Vancouver of a Chinese tech executive on a U.S. warrant.

“Trade tensions and the resulting market volatility have an overall detrimental impact on the world economy and can also be harmful to individual producers caught in the middle,” J.P. Gervais, FCC’s chief agricultural economist, said in Monday’s release.

Producers, Hoffort said, “deserve our support when faced with adversity and uncertainty due to circumstances beyond their control… We want them to know we will work with them to find solutions to any short-term financial pressure so they can focus on their operations.”

FCC in December reiterated it “offers flexibility to all customers through challenging business cycles and unpredictable circumstances on a case-by-case basis.”

The lender at that time announced such assistance for customers including crop growers in Ontario and potato growers in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, following unusually wet fall weather hampering harvests.

Among other lenders, BMO Bank of Montreal in April announced a financial relief program for crop producers in Western Canada hit by “lower commodity prices and external market forces.”

That program, for both new and existing customers, offered deferrals on principal payments scheduled from April 2019 to April 2020; flexibility on new and existing operating lines; waivers of loan application fees; and reduced fees for facility renewals. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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