The Future Growth Loan Scheme (FGLS) remained a popular loan option for farmers last year, with figures showing that €101m of funds were drawn down by farmers.

Loans ranged from €25,000 to €3m per business or farm, with loans of up to €500,000 available unsecured.

The agriculture sector had automatic access to at least 40% of the fund due to its exposure to Brexit.

Figures to the end of 2020 show a breakdown of where farmers spent the most money, with €53m going to the improvement of the farm holding. This was followed by €36m for improving infrastructure and €1.7m on restoring areas destroyed by natural disasters.

Farmers were also keen to draw down money to improve climate and biodiversity, with €8.9m drawn down to improve the natural environment and €658,811 drawn down to achieve an agri-environmental climate target.

The initial maximum interest rate was limited to 4.5% for loans up to €249,999 and 3.5% for loans more than or equal to €250,000 for the first six months.

The overall fund has been increased to €500m and AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, KBC Bank and Permanent TSB have already reached full capacity, given the popularity of the scheme.