Cultivate, the collaborative Credit Union finance lending platform for farmers, has released an analysis of its 2019 loan applications. The average loan application from farmers in all sectors was €23,554 and this was mainly used for a number of key on farm activities including, stocking and working capital (26%), farm buildings (19%) and tractor purchase (14%).

The short to medium term finance option has proved very popular with beef farmers who accounted for 64% of the applications with dairy farmers accounting for 26% of the applications. Speaking on behalf of Cultivate.

Tom Allen, manager of Mullingar Credit Union, noted that Cultivate is a specialist provider of finance to farmers who are looking for flexible unsecured loans under €50,000.

“It’s worth noting that a farmer doesn’t need to be an existing member of the Credit Union to avail of these loans.

“The feedback we’ve received from farmers who take up a Cultivate loan focuses on how easy it is to access the finance.

“Our review of 2019 loan applications gives some insights into the type of farmer who is accessing our finance and also the use of these funds. As can be seen from our analysis over 84% of our farmers have off-farm income with 90% of beef farmers having off-farm income.”

Commenting further, Mr Allen said: “We are actively looking to increase the number of Credit Unions involved in Cultivate.

“We currently have 26 Credit Unions who have over 70 offices between them. The demand we have from farmers for alternative flexible finance lenders is strong and we plan on continuing to enhance the service to farmer members in the coming years.

“For any farmer who wants to find out more about how to access a Cultivate loan, they can go to or call 1800 839999”.

Participating Credit Unions in Westmeath include Mullingar Credit Union and their Castlepollard, Kinnegad and Rochfortbridge offices.

Beef and Dairy comparison

The average loan application from a dairy farmer was €27,873 in 2019 in comparison to €21,767 for a beef farmer.This reflects the buoyancy in the dairy sector and the investment currently taking place within the farm gate.

Dairy farmers were also bigger land owners than beef farmers with average owned holdings of 43 HA in comparison to 33 HA for beef farmers.

Dairy farmers however, had more debt (household and farm), with average debt on a dairy farms 77% higher at €159,377 versus €90,234 for beef farms.

The difference between dairy and beef farmers was even greater, at 98%, in relation to their most common debt level (€107,000 v €54,000). In terms of off-farm income, 90% of beef farmers have off-farm income as opposed to 67% of dairy farmers.

While the top five proposed uses of loans on farms are the same for both dairy and beef farmers, there is a different weighting for each type of farm.

Farm buildings, equipment and land improvement account for 56% of use of funds for dairy farmers. For beef farmers it is only 37%, showing a different emphasis on farm development. Stocking loans and working capital account for a larger proportion of beef farmer requirements at 29% versus 20% for dairy farmers, highlighting the challenge of cash flow on many suckler and beef enterprises with many suckler beef businesses receiving most of their income in the last quarter of the year.

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