Low-cost loan scheme ‘imminent’ – Deering

Announcement on the much-anticipated low-cost loan scheme is imminently expected, the chairman of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee has stated.

Pat Deering, Fine Gael TD for Carlow/Kilkenny and chairman of the committee, confirmed to AgriLand presenter Claire Mc Cormack that announcement of the scheme was very close – and had actually expected it to be announced this week originally.

Deputy Deering was speaking as part of a panel discussion on the fodder situation on AgriLand’s live broadcast of day three of ‘Ploughing 2018′.

The panel also included: Glanbia nutritionist Martin Ryan; Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) deputy president Lorcan McCabe; and Fianna Fail spokesperson on agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

“My understanding is it is going to be announced – I actually thought it might happen this week,” he said.

That’s been my understanding, having been talking to the minister in the past number of weeks, that he was going to do it this week.

“But obviously the weather has changed things completely for the minister coming here today.”

The chairman warned that the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SCBI) has limitations which it must work within, however, which has been the reason behind the timing.

“It is imminent, yes. But the SCBI can only run one scheme at a time and it is the main funder of this particular scheme, so it is dealing directly with the €300 million Brexit scheme at the moment.

Once that is up and running in a streamlined way, then the other scheme will be ready to go.

Deering gave some background on the process, having spoken to both Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the national banks at a recent committee meeting earlier in the month.

“There were two schemes announced last year; and this is what we learned at the committee meeting we had a couple of weeks ago.

“The first scheme was the €300 million scheme for the agri food sector which was announced as a Brexit scheme, which was announced earlier in the year. And that scheme is up and running.

“The SBCI is the main funder of these schemes and they can only run one scheme at a time. The big ask this time last year was a capital scheme on the basis of being done through the SBCI.

“And that was a scheme that was initially planned last year in the budget this time, €25 million was set aside.

But obviously them things change during the year, you had the difficulty in the spring, and now difficulty in the summer and coming into the fall, so the scheme has to be changed.

“That’s the reason it’s has been held up – in order to make funding available for the day-to-day running of the farm.

“The scheme will have to be changed from the capital investment scheme that was initially looked for this time last year, and that’s the big issue at the moment.”