The Chairperson of ICMSA Farm Business Committee has criticized what he described as a complete lack of specifics on the timeline and application details of the Farmer Low-Cost Loans originally announced by Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure in Budget 2018. Shane O’Loughlin said that the lack of clarity on the loan package was simply astonishing and effectively meant that the announcement – so enthusiastically welcomed at the time – was increasingly looking like an empty gesture.
“Farmers are daily making their projections and financial plans in terms of investment and – against the background of really unprecedented uncertainty – ICMSA doesn’t think that it was unreasonable to ask the Government to provide very basic answers to some of the simple questions surrounding the low-cost loan scheme. Firstly, what amount of money will be available to farmers to borrow? Secondly, at what rate that money will be made available? Thirdly, when will these funds be available? And finally, what can the funds be used to finance? If we’re still waiting for the answers to these fundamental questions six-odd weeks before the UK is scheduled to leave then, really, what was the point of announcing this fund in the first place?” asked Mr. O’Loughlin.
“There were whispers and rumors few weeks back, but those of us waiting for some actual hard information were yet again disappointed. There was some talk about a minimum loan amount of €50,000, which we think would actually be unsuitable for smaller farmers looking for lower capital amounts over a shorter time period. The loan fund – if it ever happens – should address different levels of finance over different terms and try and meet the different categories of capital requirements”, continued Mr. O’Loughlin.
“These are four very simple questions that are pertinent to the low-cost loan scheme and would give farmers some idea as to whether it’s worth waiting for the eventual roll-out of the low- cost fund. We need the details so that we can either wait for this LowCost Fund or try and get the loans needed from other credit institutions. But either way, we at least need to know what options are available from a fund announced – let it be remembered – in October 2017”, he said.
Ends 11 February 2019
Shane O’Loughlin, 086-8386031
Chairperson, ICMSA Farm Business Committee
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office