Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Credit Availability

Photo of Brendan GriffinBrendan Griffin (Kerry South, Fine Gael)
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To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the lack of credit availability for farmers; if he anticipates the cash flow problem to worsen for persons due to increased winter feeding costs; if he has liaised with the Department for Finance and credit institutions in an effort to improve this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57490/12]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I am aware that, like many other sectors, farmers can find it difficult to get credit due to the strict assessments introduced as a result of the global financial crisis. I am of course also conscious of the reduction in farmers' incomes this year and the increase in input costs as a result of the adverse weather, with feed costs likely to remain high. There has, however, been an upward revision in crop forecasts in the last week and I welcome the fact that exports from the agri-food sector have maintained the growth achieved during 2010 and 2011.

My officials are in regular contact with farm bodies, various national banks and the Banking Federation concerning the availability of credit to farmers. My officials have assisted one of the farm organizations in explaining the work of the Credit Review Office, so that they can help their members in this regard. Despite the concerns expressed about lack of credit, a relatively small number of cases from the Agri-Food sector have come before the Credit Review Office. I would encourage farmers to make use of this system should they have difficulty in accessing credit.

I am aware that a number of banks have designed new credit facilities specifically tailored for the agri-food sector in recent months. In addition, the most recent Central Bank data for lending to SMEs, covering Q3 2012, shows that the agriculture sector was top of the list in value terms for new lending to SMEs during the quarter. With a total of €138m, it was far ahead of the second placed retail sector on €84m and represented 31% Excluding Financial Intermediation and Property Services of all such new lending during the period. This level of new lending (31% of all new lending) also applies over the year to date, during which €401m was provided to the sector. I am also pleased to note a 16.7% increase in the number of new tractors registered year-on-year and a 46% increase over the last two years.

I will continue to meet with relevant parties on a regular basis to discuss all credit-related issues.


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