I propose to take Questions Nos. 192 and 193 together.
In Budget 2018 I introduced a €50m dedicated Brexit package for investment, innovation and market development to assist all stakeholders in the agri food sector, including farmers and fishermen. Within that I allocated €25m to facilitate the development of a Brexit response loan scheme.
The payment of that €25m in 2018 is facilitating the development of the Future Growth Loan Scheme, which will provide up to €300m of long-term investment loans and will be available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agri-food & seafood sectors.
This is a 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. Arrangements are currently being finalised to have the Scheme in place and ready to launch as soon as possible. The Scheme will run for three years and further announcements in this regard will be made shortly.
In Budget 2019 I introduced a €78m Brexit package for farmers, fishermen and food SMEs. The package includes €44m of direct aid for farmers, which comprises:
- an additional €23m for farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint;
- a new €20m Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot scheme, targeted at suckler farmers with the aim of further improving the economic and carbon efficiency of Irish beef production; and.
- an additional €1m in funding for the horticulture sector.
These measures form an important part of the Government’s Brexit response, alongside the Brexit Loan Scheme for food businesses, the provision of additional resources to the agri-food and enterprise State Agencies, and an intensification of Minister-led trade missions to promote market diversification.