The amount of money available to farmers under the Future Growth Loan Scheme has doubled from €60m to €120m, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has announced.
Following a high level of interest in the scheme by farmers, Minister Creed said that he decided to request the increase to ensure there would be no availability issues for primary agriculture.
“This agreement with the EIF and the SBCI doubles the amount available to farmers to €120m. This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security.
“It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution,” he said.
The loans have an initial maximum loan interest rate of 4.5% for loans less than €250,000. The loans are for terms of eight to 10 years and unsecured up to €500,000.
A minimum loan amount of €100,000 applies up to a maximum of €3m per applicant. However, considering the needs of Irish farmers, a specific minimum of €50,000 was negotiated for them.
Over 460 farmers have received initial approval from the loan fund from the SBCI.
Dairy farmers make up the highest number of applicants to date. They make up 159 (33.9%) of pre-approvals, followed by crop and animal production with 89 (19%) and mixed farmers with 85 (18.1%) pre-approvals.
Minister for Business Heather Humphreys added that she particularly pleased at the large volume of applications that has been received from businesses.
“This is a time of great change and it is more important than ever that businesses invest to secure their future. This scheme has met a need for affordable long-term finance to support that investment,” she said.
Not far enough
IFA presedential candidate John Coughlan said the increase in the fund was a step in the right direction in improving investment opportunities for Irish farmers, particularly those starting a career in the sector.
“While today’s announcement is welcome, it doesn’t go far enough. We need to ensure that this sector is fully supported and incentivised to ensure it can continue to contribute to the Irish economy," he said.