€300m loan scheme for farmers and SMEs wasn't originally designed for crash-out scenario - Creed
A Brexit loan scheme was never intended as a product for a crash-out Brexit scenario, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has acknowledged.
The €300m loan scheme for farmers and SMEs was first announced more than 18 months ago but is only now coming into being.
Mr Creed told the Irish Independent that the loan scheme is intended to support farmers into long- term investment and was never intended as a hedge against a hard Brexit.
"In fairness, this was never envisaged as a product for a crash-out Brexit, it was intended to support capital investment on farms.
"It took quite a long time because we had to co-ordinate with the European Investment Bank and work with the pillar banks here and introduce primary legislation that had to pass through both houses of the Oireachtas," he said.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson for agriculture Charlie McConalogue said that the interest rates for the scheme of 4.5pc for loans under €250,000 and of 3.5pc for loans over that is "substantial".
He claimed the minister has been "asleep at the wheel" in his urgency in addressing Brexit and the beef crisis.
However, Mr Creed affirmed that the scheme does provide sufficient support for farmers facing Brexit uncertainty.
SMEs can apply for the Brexit loan scheme from April 17. At least 40pc will be available for the agri-food sector and loans of up to €3m will be accessible.