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ICOS was informed at a recent meeting in Brussels that the establishment of a European Investment Bank (EIB) loan facility for the agri-food sector remains a top priority for EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Food, Phil Hogan.

Earlier this year, the Commissioner outlined plans to roll out a guarantee fund with EIB backing, which offers security for up to 80% of the value of loans to be provided by banks.

The purpose of the scheme pioneered by Commissioner Hogan is to provide low interest and long term loans to farmers and the food sector.

These EIB backed loans will be part of the Rural Development Programmes in each Member State and will finance investments in the areas of farm performance, processing, marketing and business start-ups.

ICOS is acutely aware of the critical importance of continued capital investment at farm and processing level. We continue to engage at EU Commission and Government level to ensure the swift implementation of the EIB loan facility. While some technical issues still need to be finalised between the Commission and EIB, Commissioner Hogan remains hopeful that the multi-million loan package will be finalised in the coming months.

By Eamonn Farrell,

Agri & Food Policy Executive