Low-cost loan schemes ‘must be rolled out immediately’

The government has been called on by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) to roll out the new Future Growth Loan Scheme (FGLS) and the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS).

Making the calls, IFA Farm Business Committee chairwoman Rose Mary McDonagh said: “Farmers need immediate access to flexible, low-interest credit.

“The government needs to finalise the terms and conditions of these schemes and make them available to applicants,” she said.

The FGLS is guaranteed by the EU and is intended for long-term investment purposes within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Meanwhile, the CCGS is aimed at SMEs that have been negatively impacted by Covid-19 and requires legislation from the Irish government, which will guarantee 80% of the loans under the scheme.

“While these schemes are not ideal in that neither the FGLS nor CCGS allow for refinancing of projects paid for using cash-flow, they will be an option for some farmers.

“Moreover, farmers are increasingly faced with the challenge of rising working capital needs as a consequence of Covid-19,” she said.

The payment break on loans has temporarily alleviated the pressure on farmers. However, it’s expected that more farmers across all sectors will need access to low-cost credit in the weeks and months to come, the chairwoman noted.

She highlighted that the details surrounding the latest version of FGLS and the CCGS “continue to be developed and change constantly”.

“Enough talking has been done about these schemes and we’re no closer to launching. It’s time for the government to swiftly clarify the small print and promptly make the funds available,” McDonagh concluded.