Farm Ireland

Monday 25 March 2019

Finance Ireland lending to dairy farmers surpasses €100m

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Ireland’s largest non-bank lender, Finance Ireland, has said that its lending to Irish dairy farmers has now surpassed €100m and is growing.

Finance Ireland has also confirmed that Milkflex loans are now available as a standard lending product from the company. 

They can be used for a wide variety of dairy farm investment purposes and requires no asset security from borrowing farmers.

Finance Ireland also confirmed that dairy farmers from 17 different Co-Ops have taken loans through the innovative Milkflex scheme for uses ranging from the purchase of refrigerated bulk tanks, environmental investments to milking parlors through to refinancing bank debt.

MilkFlex offers flexible, competitively priced loans to dairy farmers with repayments linked to movements in milk price. 

It was developed by Finance Ireland and is supported by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and Rabobank.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) recently issued an open call inviting banks and other lenders to become lending partners for the the long awaited Future Growth Loan Scheme.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme has been developed by his Department and DBEI in partnership with the Department of Finance, SBCI and the European Investment Fund (EIF).

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It will be delivered through participating finance providers and make up to €300m of investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers.

The Minister said the SBCI advises that a period of due diligence, which will include the EIF, will now follow. He said he has urged SBCI to operationalise the Scheme as soon as possible.

The Scheme will run for three years from its launch date and further announcements in this regard will be made shortly.

This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security. It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution.

The loans will be competitively priced, will be for terms of 8-10 years and will support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment. There is a minimum loan amount of €100,000 for SMEs or €50,000 for primary agriculture. The maximum loan amount is €3,000,000 and loans of under €500,000 will be made on an unsecured basis.

There will be €50m to €60m available initially for farmers, within an overall agri-food package of €120m. Should demand exceed these levels, this can be reviewed.

The Scheme features a two-stage application process whereby initial application is made through the SBCI website. Successful applicants are issued an eligibility reference number which can then be used in an application to one of the participating finance providers. Approval of loans is subject to the finance providers’ own credit policies and procedures.

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