Chairman of Ag Committee in favour of low-cost loans for farmers

Pat Deering, the Chairman of the Oireactas Agriculture Committee is in favour of using the Europe Union’s €11m fund to support livestock farmers in the form of low-cost loans.

The Kilkenny-Carlow TD spoke at the IFA’s Farm Income Meeting in Kilkenny last night, where he said using the €11m of funds to create a financial tool would be beneficial to Irish farmers.

As it stands, the Government has yet to match the €11m funding available to Irish livestock farmers through European Union funding.

But, the Chairman of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee told the 200 farmers in attendance that he would push the Government to match this funding, bringing the overall budget to just over €22m.

I was actually first out of the blocks to put pressure on the Government to match that €11m in funds. It think it is very very important that that is matched.

The Carlow-based dairy farmer said that there is a difference in opinion between farming organisations on how the fund should be used, but he would rather see it be used to create cheaper finance for farmers rather than just a €200-300 flat rate payment.

“I personally believe that the best way of using that fund is to put it together to create a financial tool that can be used as a lever to create cheaper finance for farmers, straight across the board for everybody to benefit,” he said.

He said that if the cheap financing option was established, it could potentially allow farmers to transfer loans with an interest rate of 4-5% to lower financing options.

We can create a fund where money can be borrowed at 2-3% and it would be far more beneficial than there would be out of giving the farmer €200-300.

Speaking about the Voluntary Milk Reduction Scheme, Deering said the uptake of the scheme in Ireland is likely to be quite low.

“I personally think the vast majority of farmers would be very very slow about taking any reduction package and that’s why I think voluntary is a very important word.

“We have been crying out for 30 years to increase production and it is all about supply and demand and we [Irish farmers] have been increasing in the last while by quite a large percentage.

“But we are a very small cog in the overall wheel, which is a big issue at the moment, and at national level there is very little we can do about that,” he said.