MEP calls for EU loan scheme for farmers

The European Commission has been called on to come forward with a financial instrument aimed at facilitating easier access to finance for farmers.

Making the calls, MEP for Ireland South and Fine Gael leader in the European Parliament Seán Kelly said that such access would be needed for farmers to support their activities as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact upon incomes.

Speaking from Killarney, Co. Kerry, today, Wednesday, May 13, ahead of the European Parliament’s plenary session this week, Kelly said:

“The actions to support farmers taken by the European Commission in terms of offering advances on direct payments, lowering the administrative burden and providing private storage aid, for example, are very welcome.

However, more needs to be done in line with the scale of the challenge facing our farmers today.

Kelly called on the European Commission to come forward with an ambitious programme, modelled on the EU’s €2.3 billion Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) programme.

This, he said, is currently helping thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises access finance though guarantees, loans and equity capital.

“COSME uses the EU budget to provide guarantees to banks so they can provide more loan and lease finance to SMEs,” the MEP explained.

By establishing a similar programme specifically for agriculture, the EU budget could be used to encourage banks to provide needed liquidity to our farmers at far more competitive interest rates than are currently available.

“At a time when the pandemic is causing huge disruption in agricultural markets, we must do all we can at EU level to ensure farmers have sufficient funds to keep their operations going.

“I will be engaging with Agricultural Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton in the coming weeks to explore the possibility of such direct support being provided,” Kelly concluded.