Access to Finance and Welfare supports during COVID-19 for Farmers

Here are some practical steps, supports and guidance to help your farm business currently.

Talk to your bank

All the banks have announced that they will offer flexibility to their customers, and they may be able to provide payment holidays or emergency working capital facilities. A summary of the main responses for the three pillar banks is outlined later in the document. ICMSA are monitoring Banks to ensure that they treat farmers fairly at this time. If you have queries, please contact ICMSA Head Office at 061-314677

Take immediate steps to manage your cashflows

Look for scope to:

  • Lower variable costs
  • Delay discretionary spend
  • Extend your payables
  • Explore financing options

Be aware of other government supports

  • The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is a payment of €350 per week. It is available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is available to farmers in some circumstance outlined below:
    • The PUP is available to full time farmers who cease trading or who do not receive any income currently as a result of Covid-19.
    • Full-time farmers whose farm income totally collapsed to zero as a result of the pandemic and who are available to take up other full-time work are entitled to the PUP at €350/week.
    • Part-time farmers who have lost off-farm employment as a result of the pandemic and who, consequently, would be able to take up other full-time employment if it was available are entitled to the PUP at €350/week.
    • If you are a part time farmer and your off farm job is affected, you could also apply for a welfare supplement
    • If you are a full time farmer and your income is reduced but you are still farming and are unable to take up other employment, you can apply for farm assist. Farm assist is means tested. The current payment is €203 per week.

 

 

Use available government supports for working capital

  • An additional €200 million in COVID-19 funding for the Future Growth Loan Scheme (FGLS), which will be released in tranches, will provide longer-term loans to COVID-19 impacted businesses.
  • There is also a €450m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million. Eligibility criteria mean farmers cannot apply. Therefore, farmers must wait for the FGLS to be reopened.
  • Farmers can access COVID-19 Business Loans of up to €50,000 from Microfinance Ireland. The terms include a six months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid over the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period. Loans are available at an interest rate of between 4.5% and 5.5%. Businesses can apply through their Local Enterprise Office or directly at microfinanceireland.ie.
    • The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland is a government initiative to support microenterprises, through the current period of uncertainty, who are or may impacted by the coronavirus in Ireland. 
  • Any microenterprise (Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company) who is currently trading and not in a position to avail of Bank finance and is experiencing a COVID-19 negative impact on their business (The negative impact must be a minimum of 15% of actual or projected in turnover or profit). 
  • In order to apply for finance up to €50,000, the business must provide a declaration to Microfinance Ireland that they meet the following eligibility criteria:
  1. A minimum of 15% of actual or projected turnover or profit in the business is negatively impacted by COVID-19
  2. The business is a micro-enterprise
  3. The business is having difficulty in accessing finance from Banks and/or other commercial lending providers. 
  • Loan terms up to a maximum of 3 years
  • Six months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid over the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period
  • Interest rate of 4.5% if submitted through Local Enterprise Office and 5.5% if you apply to Microfinance Ireland directly
  • To apply: Register at microfinance.ie or talk to a loan advisors on 01 260 1007

 

 

 

Engage with Revenue

Revenue has provided COVID-19 information and advice for taxpayers and agents experiencing difficulties caused by the impacts of COVID-19.

Revenue has also issued updated advice to SMEs experiencing cashflow difficulties arising from COVID-19. This includes information on tax returns, late payment interest, debt enforcement and tax clearance.

 

This is a summary of the support being offered to Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank customers now but as this is a fluid situation there may be updates since going to print.  SME includes farming & food related businesses.

AIB Supports

Covid19 Supports for farming customers

  • 3-month Payment Break, Customers will need to demonstrate they have been impacted by Covid19 to avail of the 3-month Payment Break
  • New or increased working capital facility
  • Farmer Credit Line or Overdraft
  • Retrospective finance of Cap Expenditure from cashflow in 2019
  • Dedicated direct phone line 1890 47 88 33 Mon – Fri: 8am – 9pm
  • For the 3 month payment break, farmers can ring the special COVID-19 support line on 0818 300113 (open Monday – Friday 9am- 5pm) OR there is an online form (https://aib.ie/covid19/business/business-form) that customers can fill out and a representative from the Bank will ring them back.

Bank of Ireland Farming supports.

  • They can request a Capital and Interest Moratorium for 3 months on their loans with BOI.
  • BOI has put a streamlined system in place to fast track these requests.
  • This is not deemed a forbearance measure where it is related to impact of Covid-19.

Agriflex:

  • BOI has Agri. Flex option available for all BOI farmer customers whereby they can request Interest only repayments (moratorium on capital repayments) for an initial 6 months on their loan if there is a significant drop in Commodity prices due to Covid-19.
  • BOI will ask the farmer for a cash flow projection for the 6-month period.
  • There will be no fees applied by BOI in putting the Agri. Flex Interest only option in place and there will be no change to the farmer’s loan interest rate.
  • There is also the option for the farmer to request an extension of the Final Due Date of the loan by 6 months under Agriflex.
  • Availing of Agri. flex in response to a significant drop in Commodity prices due to Covid-19 is not deemed a Forbearance measure.

General:

  • BOI are closely monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on farmers cash flow and urge farmers to contact the Bank if cash flow is becoming a problem.

 

Ulster Bank Supports

Support for all Customers

  • Fund is to support Farmers who have been impacted by the outbreak either directly or through supply chain problems
  • Sectoral experts are on hand to offer practical advice to all customers on steps they can take to mitigate the worst impacts of the outbreak
  • Support for personal customers includes mortgage and loan repayment deferrals; access to fixed term savings with no breakage fees; and increases in overdrafts

Business support

  • €500m of Working Capital Support focused on meeting the needs of SMEs/Farmers.
  • Temporary emergency loans with no arrangement fees.
  • Capital Repayment Holiday on variable rate lending or a realignment of payments for customers who are seeing short term liquidity pressures.
  • Short term overdrafts or an increase/ extension of existing overdraft facilities.
  • Ulster Bank’s team of Relationship Managers are proactively speaking to business customers offering help and support as they form their plans to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus.
  • Proactive outreach to those SMEs that may be experiencing short-term trading issues due to Coronavirus to ensure they are able to access the best possible range of support.
  • Specific sectoral insight and advice from dedicated Sector Banker specialists.

Personal support

  • Mortgage and loan repayment deferral for up to 3 months
  • Allowing customers access to fixed term savings accounts early without breakage fee
  • The option to apply for an increase in overdraft and credit card limits
  • Increased cash withdrawal limit
  • Cash advance fees will be waived for impacted customers that use credit cards to access cash in an emergency
  • Advice and support from our Financial Planning Managers for any customer with concerns or questions about the impact of the Coronavirus on their finances