Farmers can apply for low-cost loans of between €25,000 and up to €1.5m, under a COVID-19 loan scheme announced by the Government.

The COVID-19 Loan Scheme (CLS) is a state-backed scheme which recognises that many small businesses are still getting back on their feet after the pandemic.

The loans are available for terms of one to six years and without security where the loan amount is less than €500,000.

They also typically feature a lower interest rate than other comparable lending in the market and some refinance can be availed of to help with any existing short-term credit a business may have.

Loan details

Loans can be used for liquidity or working capita, investment and refinancing.

Up to 30% of new loans may be allowed for refinancing of existing short-term credit, for example, as arising due to COVID-19 impacts.


This scheme is available to eligible SME and small mid-cap businesses, including primary producers (businesses engaged in farming and fishing), established in Ireland.

A business must also have experienced an adverse impact of a minimum 15% in turnover or profit due to the impact of COVID-19.

Interest rates

Interest rates on loans provided under the scheme will be lower than is otherwise typically available on similar lending in the market and will vary according to the lender.

Lenders participating in the scheme are separated into two cohorts.

For the first, interest rates will be variable, but are capped at an initial maximum rate of 3.7% for loans less than €250,000 and 2.75% for loans of €250,000 and above.

For loans from the remaining lenders, a minimum discount of 1% relative to their standard rates will be required to for loans under the CLS.


Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said that this State-backed source of finance will complement other measures introduced by my Department to alleviate the considerable impact of the pandemic on the agri-food sector.

"The resilience shown by the agri-food sector during the pandemic was remarkable as it continued to produce high quality produce for consumers at home and abroad," he added.

"These State-backed loan schemes are working well. The existing Covid Credit Guarantee Scheme helped more than 10,000 SMEs access low-cost credit," the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar said.

The Irish Farmers Journal reported in March that 1,357 farm businesses have received a loan under the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme since the beginning of the pandemic.

This successor scheme, the Tánaiste said, will give SMEs, including farmers, fishers and food businesses, the option to access competitively priced loans, should they need to avail of that option, in addition to the other help that is available.

Minister for Finance Paschal O'Donohoe said that alongside the Brexit Impact Loan Scheme, the COVID-19 Loan Scheme will ensure that businesses continue to have access to longer term unsecured lending as they deal with the impact of the pandemic.

The Scheme is delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), through participating lenders.