By Tom Collins
GUELPH — Farmers facing financial stress could qualify for a farm business advisor to come to their farm to conduct a free financial assessment.
About 80 Ontario farmers used OMAFRA’S Farm Financial Assessment program last year, said co-ordinator Anne Marie Ker. The program is open to farmers facing immediate financial difficulty, such as banks calling in loans, farmers unable to pay utility bills or who had a farm loss last year.
“If farmers can still access credit, they’re not really facing immediate financial difficulty,” she said. “We’re looking for people who need help immediately.”
Farmers can call Ker at 519-826-3220, but she needs proof before recommending a business advisor. She doesn’t need a full breakdown of financials, but a letter from a bank or a copy of taxes showing the farm had a loss will help speed up the process. “We ask them to provide us with something that substantiates their claim,” she said.
If it is deemed the farmer needs help, Ker will give the farmer the name of a local independent farm business advisor to call. The cost for the farmer to hire that advisor will be covered under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program. Many farmers who phone are already working with a farm business advisor, but call to get the cost covered.
If all goes well, the advisor could be at the farm within a few days of the farmer calling for help. “This is serious stuff,” said Ker. “It’s somebody’s lifeline.”
Ker said the most common mistake that farmers make is being too emotionally attached to their farm and not treating it enough as a business. However, many farmers have needed the program when something major happened that impacted the farm’s income, such as a barn fire, drought, flood or a family member getting sick