Irish Government expands loan scheme for agri-food sector by €500 million
The Future Growth Loan Scheme aims to support SMEs and farming and fishing businesses as they navigate COVID-19 and Brexit.
The new funding system has been criticised for a lack of detail in some quarters.
The Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland) and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D., the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dara Calleary T.D. have launched a €500 million expansion to the Future Growth Loan, the Government’s scheme to support SMEs, farmers, fishing and other parts of the agri-food sector.
“The past few months have been very difficult for businesses. Things will continue to be extremely challenging over the coming months and the new Government must do everything possible to help businesses navigate this unprecedented time and get back on their feet,” said Tánaiste Varadkar.
“We’re announcing an expansion of the Future Growth Loan Scheme. Applications are now open, making available a further €500 million of long-term loans to help more SMEs make investments to enable them to expand, diversify or improve productivity. These loans will help businesses adapt and position themselves to succeed in their new trading environment.”
The Government launched the first €300 million round of the Scheme in 2019 helping 1,150 SMEs, farmers and fishers to date make strategic investments to grow their businesses. The new announcement will see the European Investment Bank Group (EIB) provide an additional €500 million for the Scheme, bringing the total investment in the Scheme to €800 million.
“I welcome this increase in capacity for the Future Growth Loan Scheme. These loans will provide essential funding for companies who wish to invest for the longer term to enable them to deal with both the current COVID-19 crisis and the upcoming challenge of Brexit,” said Minister Donohoe T.D.
“The uptake of the Future Growth Loan Scheme by the agri-food sector has been very strong and I am aware that there has been some unfulfilled demand. Not only will the new expansion meet that demand, the evolution of the Scheme will assist in meeting the new challenges being posed by COVID-19 and the ongoing challenges the sector has in dealing with Brexit. The unsecured nature of the funding particularly helps young and new entrant farmers, as well as smaller farmers, but it is a crucial support to all parts of the production chain; farmers, fishers, forestry and food and beverage production,” added Minister Calleary T.D.
The agri-food funding scheme is supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund, and delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).
Andrew McDowell, Vice President of the EIB, said: “The European Investment Bank Group has worked closely with the Irish Government and the SBCI to ensure that Irish businesses can access finance and working capital through the Brexit Loan Scheme, the Future Growth Loan Scheme and the new COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme. In recent weeks, the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund have expanded financing for Irish companies, and we stand ready to further enhance our support for a solid, resilient and sustainable economic recovery in Ireland.”