The COVID-19 pandemic has not dented farmer confidence when it comes to borrowing money. According to a new analysis published this week by the Credit Union, the average loan application made by Irish farmers under its Cultivate farm loans scheme increased by 5% last year to just under €25,000, which was spread over five to six years.

Overall, the Credit Union said the total amount lent to Irish farmers in 2020 increased 1% on the previous year, with funding mainly used for a number of key on-farm activities including, stocking and working capital (25%), farm buildings (20%) and tractor purchase (16%).

Two-thirds (66%) of all Cultivate farm loans issued by the Credit Union went to beef farmers, while dairy farmers accounted for 22% of loans.

Sheep farmers accounted for a further 10% of loans.

According to the Credit Union’s analysis, average debt held by beef farmers is just under €94,000, while average debt levels are higher on dairy farms at €157,000. Cultivate farm loans are offered by 26 credit unions based throughout Ireland.