The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has confirmed that his department’s contribution to the Future Growth Loan Scheme will be made before the end of this year.

Creed also said that the final details of the scheme – originally announced in Budget 2018 – are being worked out, and it will be up-and-running in early 2019.

Creed was speaking in the Dail earlier this month, and made the comments in answer to a question from Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme will offer “competitively priced” loans to eligible businesses, including primary agriculture and food sectors. It is partially funded by the Government to the tune of €62 million, of which around 40%, or €25 million, will come from the Department of Agriculture.

Murphy had asked the minister if the scheme had been “abandoned in view of the fact that there seems to be no movement on a hardship fund to help bridge cash flow difficulties for farmers”.

Creed acknowledged that he was “frustrated [himself] at the difficulty in progressing the matter”, and pointed to the European Investment Fund Agreement Bill – which will allow the loan scheme to go ahead – as the cause of the delay.

It has been a more cumbersome and difficult process than we anticipated, and it has taken longer than I would have liked.

The minister accepted Murphy’s argument that “farmers were under attack financially on all fronts”, and that the fund should be put in place as quickly as possible”.

“I accept the thrust of the deputy’s observations overall, and hope this financial product aimed at capital investment, rather than working capital, will be of some benefit to the sector,” concluded Creed.