ICSA CALLS FOR ALL AUCTIONEERS TO CEASE THE SALE OF DISTRESSED PROPERTY FOR VULTURE FUNDS

11 DECEMBER 2018

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has called on the Institute for Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) to withdraw their services with regard to selling distressed property for financial institutions and vulture funds until all avenues to reach a reasonable solution have been explored. “Estate agents and auctioneers need to come out publicly and state that they will not sell family farms, businesses or homes for vulture funds while meaningful engagement is taking place,” said Mr Sherlock.

As a result of ICSA’s recent protest at the offices of online property trading platform BidX1, the site acceded to withdrawing contentious lots from its portfolio. However Mr Sherlock said, “The problem has merely moved in that other auction houses have taken up the mantle and continue to act on the instructions of vulture funds. This needs to stop. The last thing struggling families need is the threat of losing their home while they are trying to deal with their obligations to lenders.”

Continuing Mr Sherlock said, “In the aftermath of our protest at BidX1 a fresh wave of landowners have looked to ICSA for help and support. All feel aggrieved at the way their loans have been sold off by the same institutions who had made large profits off the back of farm investment. Many are faced with losing everything and the possibility of standoffs where families feel they have been mistreated is high. It’s time auctioneers & solicitors stand with the people and refuse to aid vultures in their quest for a quick profit. ICSA’s stance has always been mediation not confrontation. We will continue to seek outcomes that are palatable to all.”

ENDS

TEAGASC FIGURES SHOW HOW BAD THINGS ARE ON DRYSTOCK FARMS

04 DECEMBER 2018

ICSA president Patrick Kent today said that the figures from the Teagasc Annual Review and Outlook are a stark reminder of just how bad things are on cattle and sheep farms. “The shocking statistics are that net margin on suckler farms has gone from minus €3/ha in 2017 to minus €104/ha in 2018. Finishers have seen net margin fall from minus €10/ha in 2017 to minus €72/ha in 2018. Lowland sheep farmers saw a 16% drop in net margin but at least they had a positive net margin due to less exposure to feed costs.”

“The fact that prices are falling even though costs are up significantly with feed prices up 5% and feed use up 30% indicates that there is a serious structural problem which is too much production for the available markets.”

“The logical conclusion is that we must re-visit the strategy of asking farmers to run faster for less and less. Costs are increasing year on year which demonstrates that asking farmers to increase output is totally flawed. Instead we need to look at lower production, less inputs and better marketing of niche products like grass fed suckler beef. The current model is broken for cattle farmers and the forecast that 2019 will only see a minuscule recovery for cattle farmers is proof how we need a complete re-think.”

“The figures would be even worse if we accurately assessed the cost of the farmer’s own labour and owned land. The key question is who benefits from the increases in our agri food export figures and why is this celebrated by politicians and decision makers when farmers are getting less and less?”

ENDS

TIME TO EXAMINE INCREASED PAYMENTS FOR SHEEP SCHEME IN LIGHT OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT UNDERSPEND

28 NOVEMBER 2018

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has welcomed the advance payment of €15.1 million made to 18,600 sheep farmers under year two of the Sheep Welfare Scheme. Commenting, Mr Brooks said, “The advance payment rate has been set at 85% again this year which is good news. However, given the current underspend in the Rural Development Programme, ICSA believe the time is now right to explore enhancing the Sheep Welfare Scheme.”

Referring to the more than €300m in unspent funds under the TAMS II scheme Mr Brooks said, “ICSA would like to see the sheep sector get a fair share of that underspend and while the scheme is delivering in its current format there is scope to increase payment levels. This would see sheep farmers rewarded for undertaking additional tasks.”

Mr Brooks argues the precedent has been set for this under the Beef Data & Genomics Programme (BDGP) with the addition of the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme. “A similar bolt-on action or menu of actions under the Sheep Welfare Scheme would work just as well and deliver more benefits to the sheep sector as a whole.”

ENDS

ICSA PROTESTS THE FORCED SALE OF LANDS BY ONLINE PROPERTY TRADING PLATFORMS

26 NOVEMBER 2018

ICSA today (26 Nov) mounted a protest at the Dublin offices of online property trading platform BidX1 in opposition to the forced sale of lands. Speaking at the protest ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock said, “The farming community must stand together and send a clear message to vulture funds, and those who collaborate with them, that any attempt to sell distressed farmland will be met with community resistance.”

Continuing Mr Sherlock said, “Online property trading platforms don’t tell the full story. What you’re viewing is a product of the mistreatment of customers by banks initially and then by vulture funds. We have a situation whereby mainstream banks are continuing to sell off loans at an alarming rate, so we have an ever increasing number of families who find themselves having to deal with vulture funds with no choice in the matter.”

“We are encouraged by the statement from BidX1 that they have, for the time being, removed contentious lots from their site in advance to today’s protest. However, for that move to be viewed as anything more than a temporary knee jerk reaction, it needs to become a permanent policy.”

“We know that farms have been and will continue to be included in portfolio sales of loans. We also know that these loans are usually secured by land deeds exceeding the value of the loan, making the prospect of a quick sale more attractive than negotiating a reasonable solution with borrowers.”

“We want BidX1, and all other such platforms, to be much more careful about putting land up for sale where it’s still possible for a compromise to be found and a deal concluded. At ICSA we want to see more mediation and less confrontation. We believe that a reasonable negotiated settlement should always be considered the best option for everyone involved. We will continue to press for more regulation of the processes by which these loans are sold off in the first place and managed thereafter.”

Concluding, Mr Sherlock said “It’s not easy dealing with new loan masters whose only interest is to profit from your distress but together we can make a difference and stand our ground. ICSA strongly believes in supporting family farms and will endeavour to assist anyone facing difficulties.”

ENDS

CORK WEST ICSA TO HOST FARMERS MEETING IN BANTRY

26 NOVEMBER 2018

A farmers meeting hosted by Cork West ICSA will take place on Thursday 29 November, in the Westlodge Hotel, Bantry, Co Cork. The event will commence at 8.00 pm.

Guest speakers on the night will be:

Donal Murphy, Drinagh Co-Op

Animal Nutrition

Finbar O’Shea, Bantry Credit Union

Local Farm Finance

Dermot Kelleher, ICSA Munster VP

The Future of the Suckler & Beef Herd

Eddie Punch, ICSA General Secretary

CAP Reform

All farmers are invited to attend.

For further information, please contact ICSA Cork West chairman Dermot Kelleher on 087-6799178.

ENDS

OFFALY ICSA TO HOST FARMERS MEETING FOCUSING ON CLIMATE CHANGE & RENEWABLE ENERGY

26 NOVEMBER 2018

A farmers meeting hosted by Offaly ICSA will take place tomorrow, Tuesday 27 November, in Shinrone Community Centre, The Green, Shinrone, Co Offaly. The event will commence at 8.00 pm.

Guest speakers on the night will be:

Clifford Guest, Lecturer at Limerick Institute of Technology

Irish Agriculture – Adapting to Climate Change

Alan Jackson, Tipperary Energy Agency

Domestic & Farm Scale Solar Panels – A Realistic Option?

Eddie Punch, ICSA General Secretary

CAP Reform

All farmers are invited to attend.

For further information, please contact ICSA Offaly chairman William Reid on 086 8174756.

ENDS

ICSA TO PROCEED WITH PROTEST AT ONLINE PROPERTY PLATFORM BIDX1 ON MONDAY

23 NOVEMBER 2018

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has said ICSA’s protest at the offices of BidX1 will go ahead as planned.

Commenting, Mr Sherlock said, “Families right around the country have been forced into a position whereby their loans have been sold off to vulture funds without any forewarning. We have an obligation to ensure that those who find themselves caught in the grip of vulture funds are afforded every opportunity to come to a reasonable negotiated settlement. However, the prospect of a quick sale is often more attractive than negotiating such a reasonable negotiated settlement. ICSA wants to send a clear message that the rights of homeowners and landowners must not be trampled upon.”

The protest will take place Monday (26 November) from 12 midday at the BidX1 offices at Waterloo Exchange, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4.

ENDS

ICSA MEETS DEPARTMENT ON ANC CHANGES

23 NOVEMBER 2018

ICSA met with Department officials today to discuss the new arrangements for the ANC scheme in 2019 following the publication of the new eligibility maps. ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock said that ICSA wants to see higher payments for farmers who are most in need on poorer land.

There is an additional €23 million available for the 2019 scheme, which is a restoration of austerity cuts. “Some of this will be needed to cover the newly eligible ground. However, there will be approximately €10-11 million left to give a slight increase to existing farmers. ICSA wants to see this targeted at farmers who have the biggest challenges in terms of land quality. The last change saw extra payments made to mountain areas and we support that continuing. We now also want to see farmers on difficult and heavy land getting more.”

“The problem is that the overall scheme needs a significant injection of funding to cover the fact that so many farmers are eligible and that there has been no attempt to ensure funding keeps pace with inflation. This is a matter that will have to be addressed in the CAP reform.”

ICSA is pleased that there will be an independent appeals process for farmers affected by the 2% of existing areas that are potentially losing disadvantaged area status. “The ANC payment is very important to farmers and any farmer affected must have every opportunity to make their case. It is also essential that changes are only phased in over a number of years, where farmers are negatively impacted.”

ENDS

ICSA TO STAGE PROTEST AT BIDX1 HQ IN DUBLIN

NEWS RELEASE / PHOTO OP

22 NOVEMBER 2018

ICSA is to mount a protest at BidX1, the online property trading platform, in opposition to the continued forced sale of family farms, homes and businesses online by the auction house. The protest will take place Monday (26 November) from 12 midday at the BidX1 offices at Waterloo Exchange, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4.

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock said, “ICSA is calling for the immediate cessation of the sale of distressed properties online for individuals and families who are willing to engage in meaningful discussions. We know that in some cases those involved don’t even know their homes and properties are being sold. These fire sales are a blunt and crude instrument and we are insisting that the practice be stopped.”

ICSA invites all farmers, homeowners and businesses who find themselves dealing with vulture funds to show their support on Monday.

ENDS

ICSA SAYS MINIMAL CHANGE TO ANC AREAS WILL BE A RELIEF FOR MANY BUT FOCUS MUST NOW BE ON GETTING MOST MONEY TO THOSE WHO NEED IT THE MOST

21 NOVEMBER 2018

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has said that most farmers will be relieved that 98% of land eligible for ANC payment will continue to be eligible under the new EU rules to apply from 2019 onwards.

“I am particularly pleased to see that Co Limerick has got a significant boost in extra additional area which I believe reflects the heavy land and high rainfall in much of the County. The challenge now is to ensure that those who need the payment the most get the most. As the old saying goes, it’s not so much that there are disadvantaged areas; rather there are disadvantaged farmers. ANC payments are especially vital for low income cattle and sheep farmers.”

“It is important that we are finally getting some clarity on this topic and ICSA will be engaging with the Department on this before the end of the week.”

ENDS