Farmers in financial difficulty are ‘terrified of what is coming down the road’

Farmers in financial difficulty are terrified of what is coming down the road, according to the ICSA’s Seamus Sherlock.

Speaking on RTE Radio One today, the ICSA Rural Development Chairman said that he is taking phone calls late at night from farmers who feel very worried and alone about their financial situation.

“People are terrified of what is coming down the road, they are terrified that they are going to be homeless or they are the ones who will lose the family farm.

Unfortunately, it is leading a lot of fellows to take a very drastic step in taking their lives. I knew some of them well and some of them I only knew as a name.

Sherlock also said that a number of people he has spoken to have taken their own lives due pressure and isolation.

“It has gone into double figures,” he said.

Sherlock’s own experience

Speaking of his own experiences of financial difficulty, Sherlock said that it brought him to a very dark place.

“Basically like many others I got into severe financial debt, some of it was my own fault and some of it was just a few circumstances that mightn’t have went the right way.

“The crooks of the matter was that I was going to lose my home and I barricaded my home to see could I get the bank to talk to me and to see if there was a better way out”, he said.

Sherlock also said he found it very difficult to work his way through.

Without the help of family and friends, I wouldn’t have made it either, there is no point in saying I would.

“I think I can paint a picture when I go to meetings that a lot of people can respond to.

“When you wake up in the morning, you suddenly realise that the nightmare wasn’t a nightmare and your living it and you have to convenience yourself to face another day,” he said.

Sherlock also said that a lack of communication and farmers ‘putting their head in the sand’ when financial trouble occurs will not solve the problem.

“I have to put my hand up and take some of the blame. I am just an ordinary guy myself and unfortunately, a lot of guys are inclined to just put their head in the sand.

“I know I certainly put my head in the sand for a while and all I needed was time, help and family and friends supporting me.

Banks are changing their attitudes

The ICSA representative also said that banks are changing their attitudes towards people in severe financial difficulty.

“The banks in fairness are now coming some of the way, because they do realise that the heavy handed approach is not the proper approach.

Throwing people out on the street, what real advantage is that?

“I want farm families to farm the land, I don’t want to see vulture fund managers farming rural Ireland.

“The best man to farm the land and the best man to produce the animals is the farmer, even if it takes 20 years extra to get the loans paid off, so be it.

“I think it is a win-win situation, the banks are going to get their money and the farmer will stay on the land,” he said.

Seeking help?

If you can relate to this story and feel affected by its contents you should seek advice.

Here are agencies which could help during difficult times.

Turn2Me or Aware or Pieta House or the Samaritans.