Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Minister for Finance announced Bank of Ireland as the first lender to the market for a new €500m growth and sustainability loan scheme.

Other lenders will be added to the scheme, with both banks and non-banks to be included in future.

The scheme, open to small and medium enterprises including farmers and fishermen, will provide loans of between €25,000 and €3m for terms of up to 10 years, with up to €500k available unsecured, providing borrowers are investing in the growth and resilience of their businesses.

The loan scheme will target a minimum of 30% of the lending volume for environmental sustainability purposes.

No interest rate information

There was no direct information on the interest rate which will be charged on the loans, with the press release published by the Government saying it would be “competitively priced”, while loans for climate action and environmental sustainability purposes will also benefit from an additional interest rate discount.

The €500m loan fund will be launched in two phases, with the environmental lending being prioritised at the beginning, with loans for general long-term investments available from December of this year.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said: “The agri-food sector has shown its ability to adapt to the various challenges in recent years and it is important that we continue to provide the necessary support to assist investment, including in climate action and environmental sustainability initiatives, delivering on our Food Vision 2030 ambitions.

"This is a viable source of finance for young, new entrant farmers and smaller-scale farmers; those who do not have high levels of security.”