Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly has called on the Department of Agriculture to put forward a timeline for the implementation of financial instruments in the Rural Development Programme (RDP) that would improve access to finance for farmers by way of cheaper loans.

“The well documented problems with high interest rates are causing significant difficulties for farmers, especially young farmers,” said Kelly.

“I am pleased to see that the department is engaging with the European Commission, European Investment Bank (EIB) and other institutions to identify how to implement the financial instruments, however a clear and concrete timeline outlining when we can expect this implementation would be most welcome to the farming community," he added.

Last month, EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan unveiled a new fund aimed at delivering cheaper loans to farmers by way of the EIB.

Under this new fund it is expected that some €200m of loans will be made available to Ireland. However, in order to access this €200m from the EIB, a matching fund needs to be found, euro for euro, from within the national CAP envelope, which in Ireland’s case is already almost completely committed.

While it was initially suggested the necessary funds would be allocated from the RDP, this has yet to be confirmed by the department.