Farmer struggling with £70,000 loan debt now on path to financial freedom thanks to Advice NI

Farmers and agricultural businesses facing financial difficulties can approach Advice NI for free and impartial guidance on debt solutions.
Fluctuating produce prices, seasonal employment, Brexit and even something as unpredictable as the weather can have an effect on the income and outgoings of anyone working in the farming sector. Even before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (Deara) reported a 25% decrease in farming income in the year 2018/2019 with further decreases projected for the following year. 

Help is available for those in the agriculture sector who find themselves struggling financially. Advice NI, funded by the Department for Communities, can offer free and impartial advice on personal and business debt for the many self-employment workers who may be finding themselves at the beginning of a debt spiral.

An Advice NI Business Debt adviser recently advised a client in his 70s who found himself in debt, struggling to meet multiple loan repayments.

This client was a self-employed farmer from Northern Ireland with a wife and no children. His income had been slowly reducing since Brexit was announced, he and his wife were living on joint pension income and Employment Support Allowance along with minimal income from farming.

Over the last few years this client had taken out loans and sold sections of his land to clear some debts. The gentleman contacted Advice NI because although he had not defaulted his loans, he was struggling to meet his monthly repayments. When he contacted Advice NI Business Debt helpline he had approximately £70,000 of debt.

Advice NI’s business debt adviser firstly compiled a Financial Statement to determine full financial picture.  They then discussed options available and what they might mean. They discussed Debt Management Plans (DMPs), Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) and bankruptcy. He decided to apply for an IVA with his creditors with the help of Advice NI.  Advice NI’s Business Debt Adviser was then able to refer the client to an Insolvency Practitioner who would begin the proceedings and liaise with all creditors. Although IVAs can accrue fees, there are no upfront fees to any client for this arrangement when they have been referred by Advice NI.

An IVA is a legally binding agreement between creditors and clients that allows the client to pay off what they can towards their debts within a set amount of time. The remainder of the debt is written off once the IVA period is complete and the IVA will remain on the client’s credit file for up to six years.

Sinead Campbell, Advice NI’s Head of Money, Debt and Quality said: “This client did the right thing in contacting us for advice.

“He was clearly struggling with huge monthly repayments on his loans but our advice was able to cover every option available to him and what they would mean now and in the future.

“By talking to one of our trained, experienced business debt advisers, this client could be confident that he was getting correct debt advice with no hidden fees or charges that other debt recovery/advice firms charge. We were able to refer him to a licensed Insolvency Practitioner and put him on a pathway that would help to resolve his debt.”

Advice NI is Northern Ireland’s largest advice charity and in 2020 advised on over £28 million of debt, both personal and business.

Anyone in Northern Ireland can contact Advice NI for free and in confidence by calling 0800 915 4604, 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday or email

  1. For further information, contact Kerry McKittrick, Advice NI Communications Co-ordinator by emailing or by calling 028 9064 5919
  2. Advice NI and the Independent Advice Network in Northern Ireland dealt with 540,983 enquiries in 2019/20. For more information log on to
  3. Advice NI’s Freephone helpline number for all our advice services is 0800 915 4604 or contact us at You can call this number 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday for free and impartial advice on benefits, HMRC products, non-medical Covid-19 matters, the EU Settlement Scheme as well as personal and business debt.