Some 42 food companies have successfully applied for eligibility under the Brexit Loan Scheme and eight of those have subsequently secured funding from a bank since the low-cost finance offer became available on 28 March 2018, ministers have said in reply to parliamentary questions from Fianna Fáil's agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue.
Food companies represent 12.5% of the 337 applicants declared eligible so far. They have obtained loans totalling €3.6m according to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, or €3.8m according to Minister for Business Heather Humphreys. This represents a quarter of the loans issued so far.
The Brexit Loan Scheme has made €300m available to businesses affected by Brexit at subsidised rates, with 40% of the funding coming from the Department of Agriculture to assist agri-food companies. It is open until the end of March 2020.
Two of the eligible food businesses are in the non-primary agriculture category; 27 in manufacturing; eight in wholesale and retail trade; and five in accommodation and food service.
Deputy McConalogue expressed alarm at the fact that only 1% of the €300m loan fund has been approved for food companies, two months away from Brexit. "Minister Creed and his government colleagues must now immediately seek market disturbance supports along with state aid rule changes in order to operationalise grant-aided schemes to support farmers and the agri-food sector. Waiting to close the stable door after the horse has bolted is not a prudent approach," he said.
A separate scheme offering low-cost finance to farmers, the Future Growth Loan Scheme, is due to open by the end of March.
Minimum €50,000 draw-down for low-cost loans