Farmers across the country have suffered at the hands of the inclement weather since September of last year. When it comes to their finances, they have also faced a metaphorical perfect storm of substantially reduced cashflow at the end of last year and the start of this, with significant tax bills and continued high prices across the board.

The good news for farmers that find themselves in that situation is that there is plenty of credit available. The less good news is that what is available is not particularly cheap, and they will need to shop around to get the best deals.

For farmers that find themselves using their bank overdrafts and trade credit – both of which can be particularly expensive – to tide them over, a working capital loan could prove to be a better option.

In looking at what’s available out there, it is important to realise there are a lot of options and that borrowing at lenders’ headline unsecured rates (above 10% in some cases) is not the cheapest option.


The credit union farming loan product, Cultivate has several advantages, as it has no restrictions on how the farmer uses the money for their business, and there are no preconditions which have to be met before applying. Also, as with all credit union lending, there is a built-in life product which ensures the loan is extinguished in the case of the death of the borrower.

The current rate for unsecured lending (which is available for amounts up to €75,000 over up to 10 years) is 6.75%. Secured loans are also available for up to €300,000 for 30 years at rates from 5.4%.

On the banking side, Bank of Ireland’s EnviroFlex product is very competitive on price, offering an unsecured rate of 5.03%. There are several restrictions on accessing this product. It is not available for working capital and land purchase – although it can be used to retrospectively finance recent projects which were completed from cashflow.

EnviroFlex is currently only available to milk suppliers to Dairygold and Kerry Dairy Ireland. Potential borrowers will need to submit documentary proof that they are a participant in a sustainability scheme run by their processor. Loans are offered for between €10,000 and €500,000.

SBCI loans

By far the cheapest option for farmers looking for credit in Ireland at the moment is funding offered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) under the Ukraine Credit Guarantee Scheme for loans from €10,000 to €1,000,000 for a period of up to six years. The SBCI loans are available through many lenders in Ireland, including Bank of Ireland, AIB and some credit unions. The small bit of extra work required to access this financing is certainly worth it, considering the rates on offer.

Firstly, in order to qualify for a loan, a farmer must apply to for an eligibility code, which they can then use to apply for a loan from their lender of choice. Farmers will need to self-declare that their costs have increased by more than 10% from their 2020 level due to the impact of the conflict in Ukraine. Every farmer should be able to qualify due to the rise in fertiliser, feed and fuel costs. Once they have their eligibility code, they can access the interest rates available from lender.

Also from the SBCI, there are two discounted longer-term loan products for investment. These Growth and Sustainability loan schemes offer discounted rates for borrowing to fund business growth, with further discounts offered for climate action measures. Again, borrowers must first apply to the SBCI for an eligibility code.

Loans are from €25,000 to €3,000,000 and are for a period of seven to 10 years. Borrowing up to €500,000 is unsecured. There are no credit unions in this scheme, the rates from the main bank lenders are shown in table 1. For secured lending, lower rates are available.

Overall, there are plenty of products available in the market, some, such as the Credit Union Cultivate product can be easily accessed, but for the best cost savings, products offered through the SBCI cannot be bettered right now.