16 April 2020
By Mary Bermingham
Unacceptable that this vital sector is being excluded
IFA President Tim Cullinan has called on the Government to introduce a specific low-interest loan Covid-19 Market Disruption Support Scheme for the farming sector as a matter of urgency.
Primary agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture, with the exception of limited increased funding (plus €7m) available from Microfinance Ireland, are excluded from the Government backed COVID-19 schemes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented threat. The scale and rapidity of market closures and disturbances is unprecedented and has led to widescale disruption for farmers and the associated processing industries. To make matters worse, the cashflow situation in many farming households has been further compounded by the loss of off-farm income.”
IFA Farm Business Chairman Rose Mary McDonagh said, “While the reopening of the SBCI’s future loan scheme for farm development purposes is welcome, it doesn’t address the accelerated and growing demand for increased working capital arising on many farms as a result of COVID-19”.
“We want to see a Covid-19 Market Disruption Support low interest loan scheme to support famers. They need access to sufficient funding to cover their operating expenses during this unprecedented crisis. Relying on merchant/co-operative credit is not an option as many of these businesses are struggling to collect monies owed from farmer and non-farmer debtors.”
“Regrettably, all of the COVID-19 financial aid schemes exclude primary agriculture and aquaculture. Given the depth and breadth of the crisis, it’s critically important that financial aid is delivered down to the last mile. Low-cost funds must be channelled directly to farmers across all sectors to protect upstream and downstream employment as well as productive capacity.”