Banks promise action for farmers in difficulty

These announcements come a few days after the start of the 60th Agricultural Show in Paris (AFP/Ludovic MARIN)

Farmers in difficulty, and recognized as such by the State, will be able to delay the payment of their bank debt for one year, reschedule their maturities and benefit from loans at preferential rates, announced Tuesday the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Mayor.

At the end of a meeting with the banking sector, the minister spoke to journalists about “the possibility for these farms in difficulty to have a one-year deferral of payment of their debt”, then a rescheduling of the debt of up to three years.

Farms in serious difficulty will also be able to benefit from emergency loans at preferential rates, “between 0 and 2.5% depending on the situation of the farms”, he added.

Some banks have already started to offer advantageous loans to farmers, not holding back from communicating about these commercial initiatives on the sidelines of the Agricultural Show. Mr. Le Maire also said that he wanted to let competition play out between financial institutions.

Bruno Le Maire said he wanted to “provide immediate solutions to the agricultural businesses most in difficulty, those which have real cash flow needs and which are now calling for help, and which need immediate and concrete answers.” “.

“We need cash flow on farms,” he insisted during a visit to the Salon on Monday.

French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire (D) and the president of the French Banking Federation (FBF) Nicolas Namias (L) during the announcement of support measures for the agricultural sector on February 27, 2024 in Paris

French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire (D) and the president of the French Banking Federation (FBF) Nicolas Namias (L) during the announcement of support measures for the agricultural sector on February 27, 2024 in Paris (AFP/ Thomas SAMSON)

To assess needs, advisors dedicated to businesses in difficulty in each department will “look at the cash flow situation of each agricultural operation”. They will begin this census “in the coming hours” in order to “define the farms really in difficulty”, he said on Tuesday.

Any operator who considers himself short of funds must report to these advisors in each prefecture. “Then, a dialogue begins with his bank advisor, his bank agency, to have one of the two instruments available to him”, rescheduling or advantageous loan, according to the minister.

– State guarantee –

“Let’s avoid complexities, scales, references” given local disparities, launched Mr. Le Maire, who must also meet insurers “from next week”: “We must be simple, quick and efficient.”

The president of the French Banking Federation (FBF), the boss of BPCE Nicolas Namias, promised “the most personalized dialogue with (the) farmer clients”.

Yannick Fialip, administrator of the FNSEA, the majority agricultural union, is not convinced. “Between 0% and 2.5%, there is a difference. A farmer in difficulty who borrowed five years ago at 1% should not ask for an annuity deferral and end up with a rate of 2 .5%,” he told AFP.

Bruno Le Maire also indicated that the State guarantee of loans to farmers, to the tune of 2 billion euros, would be put in place from May 1 and not during July as initially planned.

These loans – the average amount of which should be around 150,000 euros according to Bercy – are aimed at “other agricultural businesses, which need to adapt, need to buy equipment, invest, need to green their exploitation and therefore have very significant investment needs”, specified the Minister of the Economy.

“The challenge is fundamentally to limit the guarantees requested from our farmer customers,” commented Nicolas Namias.

“This essentially concerns projects requiring a lot of capital and without much personal contribution. (…) We would prefer subsidized rates for installations,” reacted Yannick Fialip of the FNSEA.

Also present in Bercy, the general director of Crédit Agricole Philippe Brassac praised “an agriculture in France which overall is dynamic, has a future, is developing”. “I would not like through these measures to send the message that agriculture is in structural difficulty,” he argued.

The Union of Independents and Very Small Enterprises (VSE), which has 25,000 members, estimates that “many VSEs in commerce and crafts are experiencing the same economic cash flow difficulties as their colleagues in the agricultural sector”. In a letter to AFP, he asked that the government “transpose these solutions” to these sectors.

© 2024 AFP

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