Fianna Fáil bye-election candidate for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has called on the Government to ensure that farmers across the region are given access to the new EU credit line announced by Brussels this week. The fund will provide cheaper and longer term loans to those involved in the agri-sector.

Mr Aylward commented, “This new credit facility is a very welcome development for the thousands of farmers across this region. I’ve been contacted by farmers across Carlow who have been finding it increasingly difficult to secure loans from the banks. This facility, which is backed by the European Investment Bank, will go a long way to helping farmers get the funds they need to expand and upgrade their businesses. There’s an onus on the Government now to ensure that this credit line is rolled out without delay so that farmers can access it as soon as possible.

“This new funding model has the potential to make a real difference to the farming community, which is emerging from an extremely difficult period. This credit line will give farmers access to cheaper loans which can be used to finance rural start-ups and agri-enterprises, hopefully encouraging younger farmers back into the sector.

“This Fine Gael-Labour Government has spent the last four years dismantling rural Ireland through changes to the Farm Assist and Rural Social Schemes and making it more difficult for small farmers to qualify for these, often essential, payments. These changes, combined with the beef crisis and below cost selling by retailers, have led to extremely challenging conditions for small family farmers.

“While I welcome this new EU fund, the Government must act quickly to ensure that farmers can access the scheme in a timely manner. This loan facility provides a real chance to grow our agri-industry, and it is extremely important that this opportunity is not delayed or squandered”.