Hillary Courtney is a part-time beef farmer who was like many farmers throughout Ireland.

She was looking at ways to improve her farm, but was hampered by access to farmer-friendly finance.

That’s when she decided to reach out to her local credit union for a Cultivate loan.

Hillary wanted to improve the housing for her cattle on her farm, so with her Cultivate loan, she has invested in a new slatted unit to house her cattle over the winter, while also having the opportunity to add on to other sheds and improve her handling facilities.

Cultivate is an initiative created by a group of 53 credit unions to provide short- to medium-term loan finance built specifically around the growing needs of Irish farmers.

It is a farmer-friendly finance option for farmers seeking unsecured funding up to €75,000 for up to 10 years. Cultivate loans are available from almost 170 credit union offices nationwide.

To help Hillary develop her beef enterprise, she turned to her local credit union and applied for a Cultivate loan - the result of which has been an easier life not just for Hillary, but also her livestock.

“Even for the cattle, it was the best thing we have ever done really,” Hillary said.

Having gone through the full process of applying and securing a Cultivate loan, Hillary’s words of advice reflect a very positive experience of dealing with Cultivate.

“Go and talk to them. They’ll help you in every way they can and that’s so important for anyone,” she said.

Unsecured loan

Key to Hillary’s decision to avail of a Cultivate loan was the fact that the loan was unsecured, making it much more accessible.

“With the Cultivate Loan they offer unsecured lending, so that helps someone like me who’s only a part-time farmer,” Hillary said.

Cultivate loans are unsecured and there is no need to be an existing credit union member to avail of a loan.

Farmers can sign up in their local participating credit union office and be eligible to apply for a Cultivate loan immediately. The average Cultivate loan application from farmers for 2023 was for €32,841.

Cultivate loans are used by farmers like Hillary for a wide range of key on-farm activities including:

Stocking or working capital (30%).

Upgrading farm buildings and facilities (23%).

  • Purchasing farm equipment (17%).
  • These loan purposes underline the importance farmers are placing on investing in their farms, while also highlighting the ongoing pressures facing farmers due to rising input costs.

    Cultivate loans are offered by almost 170 credit union locations in Ireland. A full list of participating credit unions is available here.

    Why farmers are choosing Cultivate farming loans

  • Farmers do not need to be an existing credit union member to apply for a loan.
  • Unsecured funding of up to €75,000 over 10 years.
  • Quick and easy application process.
  • Competitive interest rates tailored for the farming sector.
  • Flexible repayment plans that make sense for the farmer.
  • Personal service - the credit union will deal directly with the farmer’s accountants.
  • Loan protection insurance is provided at no extra cost. If the borrower dies, the loan is cleared (subject to terms and conditions, age and health restrictions).
  • No penalties for early repayment.
  • No transaction, administration or set-up costs.
  • National Cultivate Week 8-14 April

    Following on from last year’s success, National Cultivate Week is back and will take place from 8 to 14 April 2024.

    National Cultivate Week brings together credit unions and their members to celebrate farmers and the contribution they make to local communities.

    On Thursday 11 April, Cultivate will host a live virtual event which brings together an exciting panel of experts to give viewers insights on what lies ahead for farming in 2024.

    The webinar - 'Cultivate Conversations: Farming in 2024' - will be livestreamed on www.cultivate-cu.ie and across Cultivate’s social media channels.

    Speakers include Karina Pierce, professor of dairy production UCD; Philip O’Connor, head of farm support ifac; Adam Woods, deputy editor Irish Farmers Journal; and Joe Healy, Cultivate chair and former IFA president.

    Farmers are encouraged to visit their local Cultivate credit union during National Cultivate Week to find out more about Cultivate’s personal service, quick loan approval and competitive rates.

    For further information, call 1800 839999 or go to www.Cultivate-CU.ie.

    Loans are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. If you do not meet the repayments on your loan, your account will go into arrears. This may affect your credit rating, which may limit your ability to access credit in the future. The cost of your repayments may increase. Credit unions in Ireland are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.