A new programme to help enhance farmers' financial risk management skills and prevent business failure will be piloted in six locations starting next month.
The Agri-Women's Development Trust has been allocated $331,000 from MPI, to research, design, and deliver the financial risk management training course.
"The primary sector is the backbone of our economy and it's vital we ensure farmers and growers are equipped to withstand challenges facing the sector," MPI's director of rural communities and farming support Nick Story said.
The course would give farmers the skills, tools, and confidence to help make their agribusinesses more financially resilient, Story said.
"Farmers and growers can't control the weather, commodity prices, or shifts in consumers' shopping habits, but they can plan and prepare for change."
Up to 130 people are expected to take part in the training course.
Agri-Women's Development Trust general manager Lisa Sims said it will be piloted with sheep, beef, dairy, arable, and horticulture businesses in the Hawke's Bay, Manawatū, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland.
"The aim of the course is to empower farmers and growers to understand the different types of risks facing their business, and give them the skills to develop plans to manage the financial and personal implications of those risks," Sims said.
Funding for the programme is part of a $1.15 million commitment in the 2020-21 financial year to reduce the risk of primary producers getting into financial strife.
MPI had earmarked $500,000 a year for three years to help enhance financial literacy and risk management skills, and a further $100,000 had also been allocated to the Farm Business Advice Support Fund, to provide farmers with independent advice to help tackle farm debt, Story said.
"This fund is managed by the Rural Support Trust national council and has already been accessed by more than 40 businesses. It's believed the support has prevented farmers from defaulting on loans and requiring the services of the Farm Debt Mediation Scheme."
The Farm Debt Mediation Scheme was launched in July 2020 and had an annual budget of $550,000 to help farmers and growers work through debt issues with their lenders.
"There have been 42 requests for mediation services through the scheme. Importantly, it has encouraged lenders to engage in conversations with at-risk clients earlier, avoiding the need for mediation," Story said.
Farmers and growers could request mediation at any time and hardship funding was available through MPI.
Find out more about the programme on the Agri-Woman's Development Trust website.
Details of the pilot locations can be found in the table below: