Monday 26 September 2016

Minister moves to free up farm finance

Published 06/07/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed

Experts will be sought to examine the difficulties in accessing finance in Ireland as a step towards potentially setting up a loan structure or fund under the Rural Development Programme, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has confirmed.

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After a recent meeting with the chief executives of the main banks, Mr Creed said he stressed the need for flexibility and was informed they recognise the challenges currently facing farmers.

Mr Creed, who has been outspoken about the need for lower cost finance for farmers and small agri-businesses, said his department would be publishing a tender for expert advice shortly.

"With specific reference to the more flexible State aid provisions announced by the EU Commission, I am working with all the financial institutions, particularly Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), to identify potential solutions to working capital finance for farmers experiencing liquidity gaps," he said.

In response to a query from TD Michael Healy Rae, Mr Creed said accessing finance was discussed at the recent Dairy Forum and the meeting of the FoodWise 2025 group, with the SBCI and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) both active in the market.

The IFA's dairy chairman Sean O'Leary said farmers were facing financial pressures which were being compounded by superlevy bills and upcoming tax bills this autumn.

He said urgent action is needed by the Government to provide low-cost short-term loans to ease cash flow pressure and reduce the high cost of merchant credit.

Mr Creed said the ex-ante assessment being sought can take from three months to a year to complete.

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