Lenders are still very much in the marketplace and finance options are available for farmers and rural businesses to support their ongoing cashflow needs, even during the lockdown period. Lenders have reacted quickly to ensure continuity of service moving to a fully electronic application process that can be undertaken remotely.
At Fisher German we are encouraging agribusinesses to review their finances as some may find it a positive time to borrow or restructure existing debt due to low interest rates.
Partner Holly Parry, who is our agent and valuer for the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (AMC), believes Government’s emphasis on banks helping clients more proactively during lockdown could help agricultural business stave off the worst economic impacts of the crisis.
Holly said: “Many businesses are being impacted by Covid-19, particularly if they have diversified into leisure and tourism. Cashflow fluctuations are happening, and early discussions with advisors and lenders can ensure the facilities are in place to manage the situation.
“Businesses may be impacted by interruptions to supply chains or high staff absences, so being able to access finance could be the making or breaking of a business. Farmers and landowners may find that it is a good time to borrow due to low interest rates, and securing these rates for terms of up to 30 years allows cashflow to be managed. Many lenders are also offering short-term capital repayment holidays for those impacted by Covid-19.
“The government has asked lenders to do all they can to help businesses, and we have seen a lot of proactive steps taken so far in response to a very difficult and ever-changing situation. The government itself has also announced a number of stimulus measures and support packages for SMEs impacted by coronavirus. Prior to Covid-19 we were advising clients to undertake a business review to ensure they were best placed for the future changes brought about by Brexit, and the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the urgency to take action.”
Holly has spent 10 years as an AMC agent and also works with a number of other lenders, sourcing finance for clients as well as undertaking property valuations.
In her new role as a lead valuer in the Yorkshire and North Midlands region for Fisher German, Holly added that valuations in the sector have also been adapted to ensure they can continue to take place.
She said: “Revised valuation procedures have been adopted to ensure this does not hold up the drawdown of funds. Property and site inspections are undertaken after individual risk assessments and may take the form of desktop, external inspection, internal inspection where the risk assessment allows or a virtual tour.
“The technology available means there is a solution for most situations that arise and we can conduct valuations safely and in line with Public Health England Guidelines. All of this again ensures that rural businesses have access to the finances that they require to continue to operate.”