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Pushing for flexibility needed for producers impacted by delayed harvest

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Issue: We know many Prairie farmers experienced a tough harvest due to the poor/wet weather conditions. In late October, the Prairie-wide value of unharvested farm commodities has been estimated between $4-5 billion.

During past crises, such as BSE, Avian Flu, the 2015 Alberta drought, Fort McMurray fires, Western Canadian rail backlog, CFIB had appealed to Canada’s financial institutions to offer flexibility in the financial arrangements of businesses that have been affected by events outside of their control. 

Action:

November 7, 2016: CFIB wrote to both the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) and the Minister of National Revenue (responsible for the CRA), cc’ing the Federal Minister of Agriculture, to appeal for practical ways that they can help address the financial challenges many producers are facing as a result of the delayed harvest.

Asks of the Federal Government:  

  • direct the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to offer flexibility and considerations in financial deadlines for impacted agri-business owners; and
  • allow flexibility for the Advance Payments Program (APP) under the Ministry of Agriculture, so that farmers can obtain their cash-advances though some of their crops may still be on the ground.

Asks for the CBA – to offer flexibility in the financial arrangements of businesses that have been affected by events outside their control, including:

  • Deferring payments on existing loans;
  • Providing favourable terms on new loans;
  • Extending loan repayment deadlines and waiving late penalties;
  • Increasing credit limits;
  • Allowing business owners to access other investments without penalty; and
  • Ensuring other filings and deadlines are made as flexible as possible.

CFIB also appealed Farm Credit Canada on similar issues in the past and is pleased it is offering help to those facing financial hardship as a result of wet weather, saying it will consider deferral of principal payments or other loan payment schedule changes to help reduce the financial pressure on producers.

Results to date:

November 14, 2016: CBA commits to work alongside its clients. Terry Campbell, President, CBA, responded to CFIB thanking us for highlighting our members’ concerns about the poor weather conditions impacting this year’s harvest in Western Canada.

The CBA assured CFIB: “The banking industry will work alongside its clients to face the current challenges in Western Canada, just as it responded to the needs of those impacted by earlier events such as drought in Alberta and the grain backlog. When economic challenges such as the delayed harvest occur, banks work with their clients on a case-by-case basis to assess their needs and develop a customized solution that best fits each individual case. These solutions could include measures such as: waiver and/or amendments of financial covenants; payment deferral and/or extensions of amortization; increasing operating limits; favourable terms on new loans; and refinancing exciting debt.”

Next Steps: CFIB will continue monitoring the situation. If your agri-business is facing challenges with your bank, the CRA, or any federal agriculture programs, such as APP, as a result of the delayed harvest, please call CFIB’s Business Resources at 1-888-234-2232 or email [email protected]

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