In response to a parliamentary question on Tuesday by Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae on credit availability for farmers, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said that he has committed to working with all the stakeholders, both at national and EU level, to address these issues and ensure that we continue to have a sustainable and resilient farming sector.

"One of my priorities is to support the provision of lower-cost, more flexible finance for the sector," he said.

The Minister revealed that the Department of Agriculture is about to publish a request for tender to procure an ex-ante assessment to assess any current failures in the access to the finance market in Ireland.

"This is a first step towards the potential introduction of Financial Instruments under the Rural Development Programme (RDP)," he said.

Challenges facing farming

Access to finance was discussed at the Dairy Forum on 21 June, and an exchange of views with the main banks is now a part of the agenda at each meeting, Creed said.

"I recently met with the CEOs of the main banks and stressed the need for them to be flexible in the context of increased income volatility. The banks told me that they recognise and are responding to the challenges facing farmers in this regard," he said.

Before the meeting he formally launched the Dairy Forum’s ’Financial Management Initiative’, a programme of cash flow and financial management training and advice for dairy farmers. "I believe that equipping farmers with better financial planning skills is essential and I am encouraging all farmers to engage with this initiative."

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