Thousands of young Irish farmers can benefit from new €1bn EU cheap loan fund – Hogan
- Scheme will offer rates of about 3pc
- EIB loans will run up to 15 years
- Longer periods of up to 5 years to start repaying the loan
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan will today unveil a new €1bn cheap loan scheme designed to boost the number of young farmers staying in the business.
The move comes amid statistics which show that only one in 20 of Ireland’s 140,000 farmers is now under 35, the average farmer age is 57, and fewer and fewer young people want to engage in full-time farming.
The Irish young farmer organisation, Macra na Feirme, has welcomed the initiative.
Their president James Healy says they have campaigned for a package such as this to help reverse the ageing trend in farming.
Commissioner Hogan said the key issues for young farmers trying to get into the business is access to land; knowledge and training and access to finance. The scheme is already being trialled in France with the agricultural bank, Credit Agricole, and it is hoped that the main Irish banks will also engage with the scheme.
The involvement of commercial lenders is hoped will swell the €1bn in “soft loans” from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to a total of €2bn over time. The launch of the scheme today in Brussels will be attended by EIB vice-president, Andrew McDowell, previously an adviser to former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.
Mr Hogan will say today’s initiative is a clear signal to farmers that they can face the future with confidence. He believes the move follows the example of the MilkFlex scheme launched by Glanbia to help farmers better spread their income over good years and bad.
It is the largest ever move by the EIB to help support farming. It is understood that while current lending rates to farmers in Ireland run between 4pc and 6pc, this scheme will offer rates of about 3pc, a vital differential which could make business viable.