Farm Ireland

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Varadkar under pressure over delivery of low-cost loans for farmers announced 'two budgets ago'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar came under pressure in the Dail yesterday over the delivery of a low-cost loan scheme for farmers.

Fianna Fail, TD Jackie Cahill said, unfortunately, beef farmers are under extreme financial pressure. "Budget 2017 promised them low-cost loans and 18 months later those loans have still not been made available to the agrifood industry.

"When will those low-cost loans, promised two budgets ago, be delivered?," he asked the Taoiseach.

Mr Varadkar said there are two loan schemes, one that has been announced, issued and fully drawn down.

"The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine is working with the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation on a new scheme which should be ready in the near future," he said.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme has been developed by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund (EIF). 

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

The loans will be competitively priced and will be for terms of 8-10 years and will support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.

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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 fund is leveraged by exchequer funding of €62 million, of which 40pc or some €25million has been provided by my Department.

The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) has just issued an open call inviting banks and other lenders to take part.

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

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