IFA President Eddie Downey has said that the initiative from the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and EIB that Rural Development funding could be used as a mechanism to provide lower-cost bank loans, could be of potential benefit to Irish farmers.
He said, “Ireland has developed a comprehensive Rural Development Programme, which is currently pending approval by the EU Commission. The priority must be the approval of this programme and the commencement of important support and investment programmes, such as GLAS and TAMS”.
He continued, “The measures announced on bank funding should be looked at in the context of the evolution of the Irish Rural Development programme, and the changing requirements of Irish agriculture. More clarity is required from the Department of Agriculture and EU Commission to outline how these measures could be implemented to the benefit of Irish farming. These cannot be introduced at the expense of existing Rural Development programmes”.
Mr Downey concluded, “On the issue of farmers’ access to bank credit, it is critically important that the recently launched SBCI Government and EIB-backed funding, which is available to all SMEs through AIB and Bank of Ireland, is made easily accessible to farming customers”.
“Farming is a capital-intensive industry, requiring constant reinvestment to maintain and improve efficiency. With the TAMS programme and the abolition of milk quota, there will be strong demand for this lower-cost SBCI funding, which is now available through the main banks. Farmers must be made aware by the banks of the funding that is available, with a straightforward application process an absolute requirement.”