Offaly TD calls on Minister to commit to affordable farm loans
Independent Offaly TD Carol Nolan is calling on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to "stop prevaricating on the issue of affordable finance for farmers."
Speaking from Leinster House yesterday, Nolan was responding to a recent Parliamentary Question she submitted to the Minister seeking a commitment for funding in Budget 2019.
Deputy Nolan stated that “the Minister’s response was a fudge to a very direct question. I asked Minister Creed for a commitment to fund low-interest farm loans repayable over five years, however, he sidestepped the question with a long-winded eulogy about the Scheme which has expired. He still has not revealed what scheme, if any, he proposes to finance over the coming months.”
"Minister Creed was referring to the ‘Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme’ which was financed by the Exchequer, however, the funds of €150m were handed over to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank to administer. The Scheme made €150 million available to farmers at interest rates of 2.95% over 3yrs, and all of this fund has now been expended," Nolan claimed.
Deputy Nolan continued: “Minister Creed has simply bank-rolled financial products for commercial banks, with no commitment whatsoever that these institutions will continue to offer loans from their own funds. The Minister is now prevaricating on the issue by ‘asking’ the banks to respond positively in providing more flexible terms for cash flow loans in the future."
"It is quite evident that the Minister has abdicated control of the continuance of the scheme to the whim of the banking institutions. I am asking the Minister, very clearly, to put a fund in place immediately, that is entirely within the control of his Ministry and to either administer it directly through the Department of Agriculture or through a Community Banking medium."
"Access to affordable finance is an absolute priority for Laois and Offaly farmers and others in the agrifood sector with the onset of the Winter season," Carol concluded.