Calleary, Donohoe and Varadkar launch €500 million FGLS expansion

Three government ministers, including the Minister for Agriculture, have launched a €500 million expansion to the Future Growth Loan Scheme (FGLS), which farmers will be able to avail of.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar; the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe; and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dara Calleary, announced the expansion to the scheme for the support of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), farmers and fishing.

The additional funding will be provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group.

Minister Calleary said:

The uptake of the FGLS by the agri-food sector has been very strong and I am aware that there has been some unfulfilled demand.

“Not only will the new expansion meet that demand, the evolution of the scheme will assist in meeting the new challenges being posed by Covid-19 and the ongoing challenges the sector has in dealing with Brexit,” Minister Calleary commented.

“The unsecured nature of the funding particularly helps young and new-entrant farmers, as well as smaller farmers, but it is a crucial support to all parts of the production chain – farmers, fishers, forestry and food and beverage production,” he added.

The government launched the first €300 million round of the scheme last year, with some 1,150 SMEs, farmers and fishers to date making investments.

Today’s announcement will see the EIB Group provide an additional €500 million for the scheme, bringing the total investment in the scheme to €800 million.

Loans of between €25,000 and €3 million are available at “competitive rates” for terms between seven and 10 years.

A statement from Minister Varadkar’s department said: “The scheme will facilitate significant injections of liquidity for businesses looking to develop strategic responses to the changing business conditions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and by Brexit.

“This scheme will help to facilitate innovation and ensure that our enterprise base is sustainable into the future,” the department added.

To access the scheme, businesses must apply for eligibility through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).

Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank are now accepting loan applications for the scheme from businesses meeting SBCI eligibility.

The SBCI is said to be engaged with three other financial providers who responded to the open call, and hopes to announce them as scheme partners in the coming weeks.

Prospective applicants are advised to check the SBCI website for up-to-date information in relation to participating financial providers.