FCC supports Prairie customers impacted by wet weather
By Top Crop Manager/Farm Credit Canada
Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is offering support to customers in parts of the Prairies facing financial hardship as a result of widespread excessive moisture that has delayed harvest and reduced the quality of this year’s crop.
Areas within Alberta, northern and central Saskatchewan have experienced significant levels of precipitation in late September and early October. Snow and rain have combined to delay harvest and reduce the quality of crops in those areas.
Producers in Alberta have also faced increased expenses. The cost for this year’s growing season is more than an average growing season. Producers have had to purchase propane for grain dryers, enlist the help of extra labour, and rent additional equipment to harvest within a shorter window. In addition to increasing costs, there have been concerns about the quality of the crop coming off the fields battered by the weather. Lower quality crop that can only be sold as feed, or lower graded canola as a result of green seed, will decrease the overall payout a producer expects for their crop. Rising expenses, and decreasing revenue, makes this year’s harvest season exceptionally difficult for Prairie producers.
FCC will work with customers to come up with solutions for their operation and will consider deferral of principal payments and/or other loan payment schedule amendments to reduce the financial pressure on producers impacted by wet conditions.
Producers can talk with their relationship managers about deferring principal payments so they only have to manage interest payments, extending the life of a loan for 12 months to help alleviate cash flow concerns. Options are also available to defer full interest and principal payments. Don Anderson, vice president of Farm Credit Canada’s western operations, says it’s about helping keep the cash flow and putting a crop in for next year without a delay.
Anderson stresses that it’s dependent on the operation and other restructuring, more complex, and different financing packages are available. He acknowledges a lot of producers are already ahead of this, but FCC wants to ensure that all producers have options and flexibility. The mood among relationship managers is concern, especially in areas where harvest has stalled the most, Anderson notices.
In 2016, the harvest season was also abnormally wet. A lot of crop stayed under the snow and delayed spring planting in 2017. Areas that are still coming back from this delayed domino effect are feeling the pinch in this year’s harvest season.
“The request is simply to pick up the phone and call your relationship manager and explore what options you have so you can make a decision on what’s best for the operation,” Anderson says. “It should never be a fearful conversation because at the end of the day, an organization like mine is only successful when our clients are.”
Although FCC customer support is being offered in specific locations for grain and oilseed producers, FCC offers flexibility to all customers through challenging business cycles and unpredictable circumstances on a case-by-case basis. FCC currently accounts for 30 per cent of all farm debt in Canada and encourages anyone struggling, including not current clients, to reach out.
Anderson emphasizes reaching out early and allowing for a longer time frame to explore options for your operation.
Customers in Alberta, northern and central Saskatchewan are encouraged to contact their FCC relationship manager or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301 to discuss their individual situation and options.
In addition, the Bank of Canada announced a 0.25 increase in interest rates on Oct. 24, 2018. For producers this means the cost of borrowing is going up. Rising interest rates are a sign of a growing healthy economy. This news runs alongside the news that the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) is raising its lending limit for agricultural producers to $15 million from its previous $5 million limit.
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