FCC, BMO offer breaks on loans to poultry farmers

(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Poultry producers up against direct impacts from avian influenza outbreaks at farms in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley may be able to get breaks on their outstanding loans with some lenders.

Farm Credit Canada (FCC) and BMO Bank of Montreal both recently announced they may grant affected customers some leeway on payments.

FCC said it “will work with customers to come up with solutions and will consider deferral of principal payments and/or other loan payment schedule amendments.”

Such solutions, the Crown ag lender said, would be offered to “customers directly impacted by the disease or by bird placement bans placed on farms in the proximity of the infected farms.”

BMO, meanwhile, rolled out a “financial relief program” for commercial customers affected by avian flu including “other impacted locations throughout Western Canada.”

The program, BMO said, will include deferral of loan payments, waiver of a new loan application and concessions on renewal fees, and “flexible terms” on existing and new lines of credit, to be developed “on a case-by-case basis.”

“While this is not a widespread issue, affected poultry producers are no doubt feeling a great deal of uncertainty around what the next few days, weeks and months will bring in light of the recent events surrounding avian influenza,” Mike Bonner, senior vice-president for BMO’s B.C. and Yukon Division, said in a release.

As of Dec. 21, about 245,600 birds at 11 turkey, broiler/breeder and egg operations in the Fraser Valley, mostly around Abbotsford, have been euthanized after cases of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu appeared in birds on the properties.

Another 85 ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys at a “non-commercial” backyard farm in the Aldergrove area were also euthanized after H5N2 was confirmed in birds at the site.

Federal restrictions have since been placed on movements of birds and related equipment within a designated disease control area in the region.

Countries including the U.S., South Korea, Hong Kong, South Africa, Mexico, Taiwan and Japan have also restricted or banned imports of B.C. and/or Canadian birds and/or poultry products since avian flu was confirmed in the province. — AGCanada.com Network

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