Limits for farmer funding raised under future growth scheme

The limits of funding available to farmers under the Future Growth Loan Scheme have been raised by the European Investment Fund (EIF), Minister Michael Creed has announced.

The decision, taken in conjunction with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), will see the amount of funding available for farmers under the scheme increased to €120 million.

“There has been a high level of interest by farmers and therefore I decided to request the increase to ensure there would be no availability issues for primary agriculture,” Minister Creed said.

This agreement with the EIF and the SBCI doubles the amount available to farmers to €120 million. This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new-entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security.

“It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution,” the minister added.

The loans are priced with an initial maximum loan interest rate of 4.5% for loans less than €250,000. They are for terms of eight to 10 years and unsecured up to €500,000.

A minimum loan amount of €100,000 applies, up to a maximum of €3,000,000 per applicant. However, considering the needs of Irish farmers, a specific minimum of €50,000 was negotiated for them, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine explained in a statement.

The initiative is a joint effort between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation under Heather Humphreys.

Minister Humphreys said: “I am particularly pleased at the large volume of applications that has been received from businesses. This is a time of great change and it is more important than ever that businesses invest to secure their future. This scheme has met a need for affordable long-term finance to support that investment.”

Meanwhile, Nick Ashmore, chief executive of the SBCI, commented: “This is a good example of the Irish farming and SME [small and medium enterprise] sector benefiting from valuable Government support delivered with the EIB [European Investment Bank] Group and the SBCI, not only in the context of Brexit, but also in allowing them to invest for the future.”

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