FARMERS in West Cork are being urged to avail of Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union’s new Agri Credit Rural Enterprise (ACRE), which was launched at the Copper Grove in Bandon last Thursday night.
This new agri initiative for farmers will offer unsecured loans of up to €50,000 for the first time, as well as larger amounts for secured lending. It will also provide flexible finance for farming diversification such as agri-tourism and artisan food productions.
Speaking at the launch, Donal O’Driscoll, CEO of Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union, said that they believe there are opportunities out there and that they, as an organisation, are willing to support and back farmers. ‘By choosing your local financial co-operative you are investing in your community, where the decision-making is local, there is free life cover and no charges or fees,’ said Mr O’Driscoll.
Gavin Kelly, business development and lending manager, said they are very excited about this new package and added that it’s available for any member, new or existing. ‘Come in and talk to us or we will come out to your farm and the loan that you get will be the one that suits you. We are local people and we’re bringing software tools, like Visualyze, which is a farming-specific software.’
County Mayor Cllr Declan Hurley, who himself is a dairy farmer, highlighted the flexibility of this new scheme and said this will allow farmers to sit down and take stock of where they want their farms to go and said he will promote it as best he can as County Mayor.
‘We probably don’t think of a Credit Union as a port to go, but it is open for business and being able to talk to someone face-to-face makes all the difference. Banks are losing that ability for face-to-face,’ said Cllr Hurley. Chairman of Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union, John O’Neill, said that a lot of work has gone into this package and it has been stress-tested.
‘We have a product that is appropriate and suitable for our membership and it was well researched,’ said Mr O’Neill.