Four credit unions join forces to ‘cul­ti­vate’ a spe­cial loan pack­age for lo­cal farm­ers

The Corkman - - NEWS - BILL BROWNE

FOUR Cork credit unions have joined forces to pi­lot an in­no­va­tive new lend­ing scheme of­fer­ing spe­cific fi­nance pack­ages to mem­bers of the farm­ing com­mu­nity op­er­at­ing across the wider north Cork area.

Aptly called ‘Cul­ti­vate’, the scheme, which is be­ing op­er­ated by the Mal­low, Mitchel­stown, Syn­ergy (Fer­moy) and Youghal credit unions, is mod­elled on a sim­i­lar project that has been op­er­at­ing in Gal­way for the past year.

The Cork pi­lot aims to re­peat the suc­cess of that par­tic­u­lar scheme, which has is­sued loans worth more than €7 mil­lion to farm­ers in Gal­way and Clare over the past 12-months.

Spokesper­son for the Cork scheme Ciara Fitzger­ald, mar­ket­ing and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer with Mal­low Credit Union, said the group had iden­ti­fied farm­ing as a par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant sec­tor to the econ­omy and, with that in mind, had put to­gether a de­fin­i­tive pack­age of loans for farm­ers.

“In ad­di­tion to gen­er­at­ing in­come in­side the farm gate, farm­ing is also very much in the lifeblood of the ru­ral com­mu­nity, with each euro earned by farm­ers hav­ing a mul­ti­plier ef­fect in the ru­ral econ­omy,” said Ms Fitzger­ald.

The four Cork credit unions have been col­lab­o­rat­ing on the scheme, which will be launched next Tues­day evening at the Cor­rin Marts com­plex in Fer­moy by Martin Sta­ple­ton, chair of the IFA Busi­ness Com­mit­tee and ‘Ear to the Ground’ pre­sen­ter Dar­ragh McCul­lough, for the past 12-months.

This in­cluded a con­sul­ta­tion process with stake­hold­ers and the set­ting up of a fo­cus group by the IFA.

“The feed­back from this con­sul­ta­tion and de­tailed mar­ket re­search has been in­valu­able in iden­ti­fy­ing the real needs of farm­ers. They value the face to face re­la­tion­ship bank­ing and the per­sonal touch of credit unions, where a farmer can come in and dis­cuss his or her pro­posal,” said Ms Fitzger­ald.

“They value a speedy loan ap­pli­ca­tion process and the fact that no se­cu­rity may be re­quired for the loan. Com­pet­i­tive in­ter­est rates are ob­vi­ously im­por­tant due to the na­ture of cash flow on a farm and flex­i­ble re­pay­ment op­tions are also a key fac­tor in the suc­cess of the Cul­ti­vate prod­uct.”

It of­fers loans of up to €50,000 for a va­ri­ety of pur­poses in­clud­ing live­stock pur­chase, farm de­vel­op­ment and buy­ing farm ma­chin­ery pur­chase. Start up fi­nance for young trained en­trants to farm­ing will also fea­ture in the loan pack­age, with the terms of loans up to seven years.

“Farm­ers want to deal with peo­ple who have a knowl­edge of agri­cul­ture and un­der­stand farm­ing. With this in mind credit union farm loan of­fi­cers are com­plet­ing an in­ten­sive Farm and Fi­nance Train­ing course or­gan­ised by Tea­gasc and Pal­laskenry Agri­cul­tural Col­lege,” said Ms Fitzger­ald.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit: www.cul­ti­vate-cu.ie or drop into any of the Mal­low CU branches in Mal­low, Bal­ly­da­heen, Broad­ford, But­te­vant, Charleville, Don­eraile, Drom­col­logher, Mill­street or speak to the Mitchel­stown, Syn­ergy and Youghal Credit Unions.

Ear to the Ground pre­sen­ter Dar­ragh McCul­lough will launch the ‘Cul­ti­vate’ scheme at the Cor­rin Marts Com­plex next Tues­day.

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