IFA seeks €200m loan to ease merchant debt crisis
Low interest rate credit from Europe to help keep cash flowing
The European Investment Bank is being called on to provide a lifeline to an Irish agriculture industry struggling with more than €550million in credit to farmers.
With farm costs at an all-time high, the IFA has called on the Taoiseach and Ministers for Finance and Agriculture to secure €200m of low interest rate funding from Europe.
The hope is that the funding would allow farmers to restructure farm debts over a period of three to five years.
While co-ops and feed merchants remain loathe to reveal the extent of the credit extended to farmers, experts believe farm debt with merchants to be at least 45-50pc higher than normal this year.
One industry insider estimated the credit bill on feed alone to be in the region of €350m, with the fertiliser credit bill topping €200m.
The figures are based on a national feed consumption of 3m tonnes and national fertiliser consumption of 1.2m tonnes. More than 60pc of the annual feed bill in Ireland has already been sold, with an estimated 60pc of that "on the tab".
Fertiliser sales are always front loaded in the year and are running at 75pc of the annual total, with 60pc sold on credit.
These figures do not account for the imported fodder, vet bills and animal removal charges that are all hanging over farmers after the worst weather and fodder crisis in living memory.