Calls for vulture fund ‘wings to be clipped’

The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has been called upon to consider measures to control the sell-off of loans involving family farms to hedge funds by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Making the calls, ICSA Rural Development chairperson Seamus Sherlock called for unity on the matter from farmers.

“The farming community must stand together on this issue and send a clear message to vulture funds that any attempt to sell distressed farmland will be met with community resistance,” Sherlock said.

The chairperson underlined that restructuring in a reasonable manner must come to the fore where possible instead of such forced sales.

“There are various figures relating to the acreage already under the control of such funds.

“However, ICSA believes this will only be a drop in the ocean if proper measures are not put in place to curtail these vulture funds.

‘Throwing farm families to the wolves’

“Banks have worked with farmers for generations and now these same financial institutions are throwing farm families to the wolves.”

The chairperson said that putting farm families in such a position should not be allowed to continue – even if it means political intervention.

He added that a strong message needs to be sent to fund managers signalling that the best method as always is to deal with the family by restructuring existing loans.

This must be done at a reasonable rate bearing in mind these loans were purchased at a fraction of the original debt.

“The option of a forced sale should never be considered unless there is absolutely no engagement by the borrower,” Sherlock contended.