KENTVILLE, NS - Farm Credit Canada is extending a helping hand to clients throughout the Maritime provinces facing financial hardship as a result of a widespread late frost.
Overnight from June 3 to 4, temperatures dropped as low as -3C, causing varying degrees of damage to fruit and vegetable crops in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. As a result, many producers could experience lower yields, reduced revenues and higher operating costs.
Farm Credit Canada (FCC) vice-president of operations for Atlantic and Eastern Ontario Faith Matchett said they are ready to provide the support clients may need to reduce any short-term financial pressure caused by the unusual weather.
She said the form the frost assistance would take really depends on the particular customer and what he or she would like to do. Loan payments could be amended, principal payments could be deferred, there could be an interest-only component or amortization could be extended.
“We would work with a specific impacted grower and figure out what the best solution is for that person or that company,” Matchett said.
She said knowing that FCC is prepared to help would hopefully provide some comfort to the many producers and agri-food processors who may be feeling personal hardship and stress as a result of the severe frost at the beginning of the growing season. Matchett said FCC would support customers as needed and ensure that they have the financial means to continue operations or prepare for the next season.
FCC is calling clients to help determine frost impacts but Matchett said they aren’t sure at this point how many have been affected. They were initially considering tender fruit growers – including strawberry, blueberry and grape producers – but recognize that farmers who had early crops such as potatoes planted have also been affected. In some cases, it will take time to realize the full impact.
“We’ve touched base with many of our customers, we’re going to continue to do that and I think that as the season goes along, we’ll have a much better handle on how many people have been impacted and to how significant a level,” Matchett said.
She said that although producers in all three Maritime provinces were impacted by the frost, areas of severe damage seem somewhat patchy. For example, in the case of clients with multiple fields in multiple locations, they’re trying to gain an understanding if all fields have been affected or if damage was localized.
Matchett said some grape and apple producers could be affected this year or in the years ahead, especially if newly planted vines and trees have been damaged. It could impact on the volume of fruit produced over time or mean it takes an extra year for the vines and trees to reach full production.
Matchett has been in her current role at FCC for 12 or 13 years and this is the first time she recalls doing a customer support strategy for frost. She said there has been an increase in the overall number of FCC customer support strategies in recent years as Canada seems to be experiencing more weather extremes.
Customers in the three impacted provinces are encouraged to contact their FCC relationship manager or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301. Although the current support program is focused on clients in the Maritimes, FCC offers flexibility to all customers through challenging business cycles and circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
FCC is Canada’s leading agricultural lender with a loan portfolio of more than $33 billion. Profits are reinvested back into agriculture and the communities where FCC customers and employees live and work. For more information, visit www.fcc.ca.