Earlier this month a €50m fund for farmers or farm contractors buying or leasing farm machinery was confirmed by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).

The fund will cater for the buying or leasing of tractors, combine harvesters and balers, among other farm machinery.

The fund’s sole on-lender is First Citizen, a Dublin-based financial services company set-up and staffed by Permanent TSB Finance.

Since it’s launch in October 2014, over a quarter of all lending by the SBCI has gone to the agriculture and agrifood sectors.

Former Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney last week said the SBCI has made 4,619 loans amounting to €172m drawn down by small and medium enterprises in Ireland.

He added that 26% of SBCI’s lending has gone to agriculture and agrifood.

It is understood this includes farmers and farm contractors and equates to €44.7m over 18 months, or €2.48m a month.

How much can I borrow?

According to First Citizen, all applications are considered on a case-by-case basis but a typical application would be expected to be in the range of €20,000 to €25,000.

However, this does not exclude applications for higher or lower amounts.

How flexible is the finance?

Finance Agreements can accommodate monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly payments, depending on circumstances and income situation.

Finance is available over any term between two and seven years, depending on the type and age of the asset being financed.

First Citizen Agri Finance will provide up to 90% LTV (loan to value) of the asset, subject to existing credit criteria, but other terms and conditions may apply.

Therefore, a minimum deposit of 10% is required and a joint hirer or guarantor may also be required.

As usual, lending criteria, terms and conditions apply.

Is State Aid Also Available?

According to First Citizen, as the SBCI is a State agency providing support by way of discounted interest rates, state aid may be applicable.

“Where this occurs borrowers will be advised. Borrowers must complete an SBCI application form prior to the purchase of the asset,” First Citizen said.

“The provision of funding for Agricultural Equipment Contracts is being made under EU Agricultural Block Exemption Regulations rules.”

These permit the provision of State Aid to borrowers who satisfy certain requirements. Information on the State Aid requirements for the Agricultural Equipment Contracts is available at http://sbci.gov.ie.

Where do I apply?

Their five-page form can be downloaded from First Citizen here.

How do I contact First Citizen?

First Citizen can be phoned on (01) 884 6700, or else can be written to at: Customer Services Department, C/O First Citizen Agri Finance, Bloom House, Gloucester Square, Dublin 1.