Federated Farmers is keen to raise awareness of the mediation scheme run by the Ministry for Primary Industries to give struggling farmers the chance to work through debt problems with their bank, using independent mediators. By law, banks must offer mediation before taking any debt enforcement action against farmers or farm businesses. Also, farmers can ask for mediation at any time. The Reserve Bank says defaults in banks’ agricultural lending portfolios are currently low, but they’re expected to increase and could accelerate if there is a prolonged period of high costs and low prices. Federated Farmers’ national board spokesperson for banking Richard McIntyre says wants to help farmers understand how it works. He is urging farmers who need help to make use of this scheme, because it’s about coming up with a plan, which sometimes means it’s a managed exit, or it could be to subdivide a couple of the back paddocks for sale, or sometimes it’s changing aspects of the farm’s management or changing the farm system. Federated Farmers is hosting a webinar, ‘Farm debt mediation: ask the experts’, tomorrow night at 7. You can find out more on Fedsnews webinar at fedsnews.co.nz.