‘Low-cost loan scheme on track for early 2017 launch’

The low-cost loan scheme, which was introduced in October’s budget, is on track to be launched in early 2017, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

Minister Creed quashed fears that the scheme would not open up to applications until April of next year at last night’s Carrigaline Macra na Feirme’s Irish Agriculture – At a crossroads conference in Co. Cork.

The Cork-based TD said he received assurances from the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) that the scheme would be launched in early 2017 at last week’s Beef Forum.

The loan scheme was introduced to help farmers with current cashflow difficulties they are facing.

Under the scheme, called the Agri Cashflow Support Loan Scheme, a total of €150m will be available to farmers at low-cost interest rates of 2.95%.

The low-cost loans were designed as a cashflow support facility to improve the working capital position of viable primary agriculture SMEs, including farmers.

The loans are primarily to pay down expensive forms of credit such as merchant credit and other short-term financing facilities.

The purposes for which the loans may be used include:
  • Working capital requirements.
  • As a more sustainable alternative to short-term credit facilities.
  • As an alternative to merchant credit

The loans will be available to all livestock farmers, tillage farmers, horticulture producers and others involved in primary agricultural production.

To satisfy the requirements of the EU aid package, applicants will also need to satisfy certain eligibility criteria.

Loans to non-livestock farmers will be subject to de minimis State Aid requirements, the Department has said.

The Minister had previously confirmed that the loans will be flexible with interest only facilities of up to three years.

Normal lending assessment criteria will apply although the loans will be ‘unsecured’ in nature, thereby facilitating a more straightforward application process.