Low-interest loans needed to bail out drought-stricken farmers, say IFA

IFA President Joe Healy
IFA President Joe Healy
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The IFA has called for a low-interest loan package for farmers to be introduced immediately to off-set the spiralling costs associated with the continuing drought.

IFA president Joe Healy has written to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, seeking an urgent meeting to try and get the low-cost loan scheme, which was announced in last October’s Budget, up and running.

The move comes as Teagasc warned of massive losses in the vegetable sector due to the impact of the heatwave and drought, and Glanbia Co-op announced a €20m package to assist its milk suppliers who are struggling to feed dairy herds.

Although Met Éireann is predicting scattered showers across most of the country this week following Sunday’s rain, Mr Healy (pictured) said any delay in introducing a low-interest loan package was “simply unacceptable”.

Dairy and beef farms around the country are starved of grass, with growth rates collapsing to under 25kg/ha/day across much of the south and east, and grass covers rapidly disappearing in the west and northwest

Farmers have been forced to open silage pits as a consequence and are feeding cows up to 10-12kgs/hd/day of concentrates and coarse rations, such as soya hulls and palm kernel, to keep animals going.

“Farmers are crying out for some sort of help during what is an extraordinarily difficult time due to the ongoing drought, which has added significant costs on farms and created major cashflow difficulties,” Mr Healy said.

“These loans, which were announced in October’s Budget, may have helped some farmers to fund some of the increased costs that have piled on in the last few weeks. Yet it is clear that it is still a long way off.”

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Glanbia Co-op has announced a €20m extended credit scheme to assist milk suppliers overcome the crisis.

The scheme will cover the purchase up to mid-September, by Glanbia Co-op members, of dairy compound feeds, coarse rations and fertilisers.

Purchases made under the scheme will be paid for by deductions from the supplier’s milk cheques in six equal instalments in July, August and September of 2019 and 2020. No interest will be charged by Glanbia Ireland on the deferred payments.

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