A personal insolvency application made by a Donegal beef farmer relating to borrowings of more than €780,000 owed to Pepper Finance Ireland has been dismissed by the Circuit Court.
At a sitting of Monaghan Circuit Court last week, Judge Verona Lambe dismissed the personal insolvency application made by the Donegal farmer, stating that he was not insolvent as he had farm assets of more than €1.85m which could be realised to repay the debts.
As part of the personal insolvency application, the farmer sought an extended restructure of his debts of more than €780,000 and offered to repay the borrowings over a 32-year period via monthly instalments of just over €2,800.
However, the application was objected to by the legal team of Pepper Finance, arguing the farmer would be repaying his borrowings until he was 76, which they said was likely to be unsustainable.
The court dismissed the insolvency application, stating that the farmer had made no repayments on his borrowings for the last five years despite running a profitable farm business.
Court documents show the Donegal farmer runs a 224ac beef farm, which is valued at more than €1.85m in total. This valuation includes livestock valued at €330,000 and machinery worth almost €200,000, while the farmland is valued at €1.3m.
The farmer had taken out five separate loan facilities between 2005 and 2012 with Danske Bank, which were subsequently acquired by Pepper Finance.
The first two loans were long-term loans amounting to just over €0.5m. Over €300,000 of this was to buy 47 acres of land.
The farmer also borrowed €100,000 as part of a stocking loan, a mortgage of just under €115,000 and took out an overdraft facility of €20,000.
Documents provided to the court show the farmer made no repayment on this debt from September 2015 to January 2020, despite his farm making annual net profits of close to €80,000 each year.
In her ruling, Judge Lambe said the farmer had not only made zero repayments on his borrowings, but had used his surplus income to expand his cattle herd. While the court dismissed the personal insolvency application, the Donegal farmer has until the end of this week to appeal the decision.
Additionally, it’s understood the farmer is still in private discussions with Pepper Finance to see if a settlement agreement can be reached.