The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) have called on the government to introduce a low-interest loan scheme for the agricultural sector as a matter of urgency.
They stated that it is “unacceptable” that the agri-food sector is being excluded from these supports.
Currently, primary agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture are excluded from the Government-backed COVID-19 schemes.
Tim Cullinan, president of the IFA, commented on the issue, saying: “The scale and rapidity of market closures and disturbances are unprecedented and has led to widescale disruption for farmers and the associated processing industries.”
“To make matters worse, the cash flow situation in many farming households has been further compounded by the loss of off-farm income.”
IFA farm business chairman, Rose Mary McDonagh, said that, while the reopening of the SBCI’s future loan scheme is welcomed, it doesn’t address the growing demand for working capital 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 farmers. 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,” she concluded.