‘Desperately required’ MilkFlex roll-out welcomed by farmers

The national roll-out of loans under the MilkFlex scheme has been welcomed by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICSMA), which believes that they have the potential to be a “very useful option” for farmers.

Welcoming the countrywide MilkFlex roll-out, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said he believed it will become a very significant source of finance and loans in the farm and agri-food sector.

He noted that there are “current intense pressures” on dairy farmers due to: the fodder crisis; downward pressures on milk price; environmental compliance; and regulatory costs.

As a result, farmers desperately required low-cost financing and “agri-sensitive” loans that they could both access and repay in a timely, flexible and smooth fashion, the president said.

The MilkFlex system, in fairness to it, might prove to be a very useful option for those in a position to access it, McCormack said.

MilkFlex

Yesterday (Tuesday, May 8), Finance Ireland announced that plans are in place to make the MilkFlex loan product available through participating co-ops across Ireland.

The new facility – supported by funding from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and Rabobank – will offer flexible, competitively-priced loans to dairy farmers with repayments linked to movements in milk price.

The previous scheme provided €64 million in loans to dairy farmer members of Glanbia Co-op since its launch in July 2016.

The announcement was made yesterday at a launch event in Dublin. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, was guest of honour at the launch and welcomed the decision to make MilkFlex available to participating co-ops countrywide.

Key features of the MilkFlex product:
  • It will provide milk suppliers in the Republic of Ireland with a funding product that helps to protect cash flow from the impact of milk price volatility;
  • It will feature in-built ‘flex triggers’ that can adjust the repayment terms in response to movements in milk price and disease outbreak;
  • Repayments will also be adjusted to allow for seasonality;
  • These features combine to provide cash flow relief to farmers when most needed;
  • It will be facilitated through participating co-ops around Ireland, with Finance Ireland originating the loans backed by finance provided by ISIF and Rabobank;
  • It allows for investment in on-farm productive assets to support an existing or growing dairy farm enterprise (including dairy livestock, milking platform infrastructure and land improvement);
  • New categories, relating to milk production, are being included in the MilkFlex national roll-out that were not available in the past such as:
    → Investment in on-farm energy efficiency and renewable energy;
    → Environmental Investments;
    → Agricultural technologies that deliver on-farm efficiencies.

MilkFlex loans will be subject to underwriting criteria and the interest rate charged will be a variable rate of 3.75% above monthly Euribor, set at a floor of zero.