Debt secured by farmland should be considered relevant debt under personal insolvency legislation – which is vital in “rebalancing the relationship” between borrowers and “vulture funds”, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has stressed.

An IFA delegation recently met with the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and the Minister of State for Law Reform James Browne to discuss the ongoing reform of the Personal Insolvency Act.

IFA Farm Business Committee chairperson Rose Mary McDonagh welcomed the Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Bill as it removes the requirement for debt to have originated prior to 2015 in order to be considered relevant debt under the Personal Insolvency Act.

The bill was debated in the Seanad last week and it is expected to be implemented without delay. Minister McEntee outlined that the general scheme of a more comprehensive amendment bill will be introduced towards the end of this year.

The IFA said it stressed that debt secured by farmland should be considered relevant debt under personal insolvency legislation.

McDonagh said that farmland is intrinsically linked to farm family homes.

“Farmland is more fixed than typical business assets.

The so-called vulture funds seek to immediately sell land belonging to farmers in arrears, which would have a devastating impact on a farm’s potential to generate revenue.

McDonagh said that Personal Insolvency Arrangements (PIAs) are a welcome aid for farmers in financial distress.

“PIAs are another option and will offer a solution to some farmers in arrears. The legislation is playing a vital role in rebalancing the relationship between borrowers and the so-called vulture funds.”

McDonagh concluded by saying that the IFA will work with the minister and her department to explore if a distinction can be made for farmland in the legislation.