CU agri loans ‘a hit’ with farmers

Mick Culkeen: A great response to loans.
Mick Culkeen: A great response to loans.

UP to 225 farmers from all around Co. Galway have drawn down loans averaging €15,000 just three months after the launch of the ‘Cultivate’ lending initiative by the Credit Union movement in the county.

The loan applications have been processed at four Credit Unions dotted across the county – Loughrea, Ballinasloe, Gort and Tuam.

The targeted loans for the agricultural sector were launched last March by the Galway Credit Unions and have attracted a ‘huge response’ from farmers across the county.

An estimated €3.5 million has been lent to farmers for a variety of agri-development projects at a lending rate of 6.75% with a maximum payback period of seven years.

Mick Culkeen, Manager of St. Jarlath’s Credit Union, Tuam, told the Farming Tribune, that the whole concept of the loans was to ‘do something positive’ for its farming membership.

“We don’t call this ‘easy credit’ but we do describe it as accessible credit. If it’s productive, if it’s agri and if it ‘stands up’, then the Credit Unions are in a position to strongly support the farming community,” said Mick Culkeen.

David McDonnell of Naomh Breandáin Credit Union in Loughrea, said that market research had paved the way for the Credit Union movement to develop the right type of loan product for local farmers.

“We sought the opinion of farmers as well as Teagasc, the IFA, IFAC and other agri experts to develop and design this lending project,” said David McDonnell.

He said that the Credit Unions in Galway were delighted with the success of the initiative and he was ‘very optimistic’ looking to the future in terms or making finance available to more farmers.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.