Agri-Loan Scheme is step in the right direction, but changes are needed – Chambers

Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers has said that while the Government decision to establish an agri-business loan scheme is welcome, its rollout since Budget 2017 has been lethargic.

Deputy Chambers was reacting to the announcement by Minister Creed that €150 million will be made available to farmers.

“Low cost credit is something that Fianna Fáil has been consistently supportive of. Farmers must have sustainable access to cash-flow to ensure the viability of their farm businesses”, explained Deputy Chambers.

“While Fianna Fáil supports a new loan scheme, I am concerned that it took over three months for its details to be provided. This scheme was initially flagged in Budget 2017 last October. Since then farmers across Mayo have been forced to bridge the gap to ensure that their farms remain viable.

“This scheme could be improved by providing the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) with a banking licence, and letting it provide loans directly to farmers, and other SMEs, rather than having to go through the pillar banks.

“The Minister should also think about allowing farmers to use this scheme to refinance their existing loans, thereby reducing the overall cost farmers have to pay.

“I would urge farmers across Mayo to consider applying for a loan. It will be cheaper than any credit currently available on the market, and is a step in the right direction,” concluded Deputy Chambers.