One of my priorities is to improve access to finance for the agri-food sector. Food Wise 2025 identifies competitiveness as a key theme and includes a recommendation that stakeholders work to “improve access to finance for agriculture, forestry and seafood producers and agri-food companies”.
The Future Growth Loan Scheme has been developed by my Department and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in partnership with the Department of Finance, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and the European Investment Fund (EIF). It will be delivered through participating finance providers and make up to €300 million of investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agri-food & seafood sectors. The loans will be competitively priced and will be for terms of 8-10 years and will support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.
This is a long-awaited 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.
The fund is leveraged by exchequer funding of €62 million, of which 40% or some €25million has been provided by my Department. The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) has just issued an open call inviting banks and other lenders to take part. The Scheme will run for three years from its launch date and further announcements in this regard will be made shortly.
Grant aid for capital investments, including a wide variety of on farm investment items, is available under the suite of seven measures available under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II. Grant aid is available at a rate of 40% with a higher grant rate of 60% available to qualified young farmers. The Scheme is open to new applications with full details of the terms and conditions available on my Department’s website.