Further details regarding the loan fund of €150m, announced under Budget 2017, which is to support low-cost loans for farmers have been revealed by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

The loans are aimed at strategically alleviating the pressures of income volatility, the Minister said.

“The loans will enable farmers to improve the management of their cash flow and reduce the cost of their short term borrowings.

“The fund is to be provided for through funding of just under €25m for a low interest agri-cash flow fund for farmers, to be developed by the Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI),” he said.

This fund included the €11m made available under the EU’s exceptional adjustment aid for milk and other livestock farmers, which the Government has matched (€11m) and added €3m to.

1.What farmers can apply?

Livestock, tillage and horticulture farmers are allowed to apply for the loans, which will have an interest rate of 2.95%.

2.How much can a farmer borrow?

Farmers can borrow up to a maximum amount of €150,000 and there is no minimum level of borrowing, according to the Minister.

3.How will a farmer know if he/she is eligible for a loan?

The Department has said that eligibility for livestock farmers will be in line with the conditions laid down in the EU exceptional adjustment aid regulation.

Meanwhile, loans to non-livestock farmers will be subject to de minimis State Aid requirements, it said. Normal lending assessment criteria will apply.

4.When does the loan have to be drawn down by?

The Minister for Agriculture has said that loans will have to be drawn down by September 2017.

5. When will farmers be able to apply?

It is hoped that farmers will be able to apply for the loans early in the new year.

The Minister is encouraging farmers to consider their cash flow and borrowings situation now, and if appropriate, to be prepared to apply for these loans when they become available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Further details of the loan fund will be provided in early November, when an open call for lending institutions to participate is expected.