Farmer protest calls for ‘unity against vulture funds’ in Dublin

A protest was mounted by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) at the Dublin offices of online property trading platform BidX1 earlier today (Monday, November 26) in opposition to the forced sale of lands.

Speaking at the protest ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock called for unity among farmers against so-called “vulture funds”.

“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,” the chairman 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.

The chairman acknowledged the property auction firm’s announcement on Friday to cease its sale of agricultural land in light of unagreed framework between all parties.

“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,” he asserted.

“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.”

Sherlock said that the ICSA wanted trading and auction platforms to be more careful about putting land up for sale where it’s still possible for a compromise to be found and a deal concluded, seeking “more mediation and less confrontation”.

“We believe that a reasonable negotiated settlement should always be considered the best option for everyone involved.”

Concluding, Sherlock said: “Together we can make a difference and stand our ground. The ICSA strongly believes in supporting family farms and will endeavour to assist anyone facing difficulties.”