Milkflex Goes Countrywide08 May 2018
Finance Ireland, supported by funding from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and Rabobank, has announced that it plans to make the MilkFlex loan product available through participating Co-Ops across Ireland. The new facility will offer flexible, competitively priced loans to dairy farmers with repayments linked to movements in milk price.
The new facility will build on the success of the initial MilkFlex product, which was also supported by ISIF, Rabobank and Finance Ireland, and which provided €64 million in loans to dairy farmer members of Glanbia Co-Op since launch in July 2016.
The announcement was made today at a launch event in Dublin. The Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, was guest of honour at the launch and welcomed the decision to make MilkFlex available to participating Co-Ops countrywide. The launch has also been welcomed by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan [quotes from both are below].
Key features of the MilkFlex product
- It will provide milk suppliers in the Republic of Ireland with a funding product that helps protect cashflows from the impact of milk price volatility.
- It will feature inbuilt ‘flex triggers’ that can adjust the repayment terms in response to movements in milk price and disease outbreak.
- Repayments will also be adjusted to allow for seasonality.
- These features combine to provide cash flow relief to farmers when most needed.
- It will be facilitated through participating Co-ops around Ireland, with Finance Ireland originating the loans backed by finance provided by ISIF and Rabobank
- It allows for investment in on-farm productive assets to support an existing or growing dairy farm enterprise (including dairy livestock, milking platform infrastructure, and land improvement).
- New categories, relating to milk production, are being included in the MilkFlex national rollout that was not available in the past such as:
- Investment in on-farm energy efficiency and renewable energy
- Environmental Investments
- Agricultural technologies that deliver on-farm efficiencies.
When first launched in 2016, MilkFlex was only available to suppliers of Glanbia. Total applications received from Glanbia farmers were over €110m and the product won the COGECA Business Model Innovation Award, at the 2017 European Awards for Co-operative Innovation.
MilkFlex Loans will be subject to underwriting criteria and the interest rate charged will be a variable rate of 3.75% above monthly Euribor, set at a floor of zero.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Creed said:
”I am pleased to launch the rollout of MilkFlex nationally today, an initiative that will help suppliers cope with dairy market price volatility. It’s important for farmers to be able to access affordable financing, and I commend ISIF, Rabobank and Finance Ireland for making this innovative funding mechanism available to Irish dairy farmers. It will be a valuable tool in managing income volatility and enabling farmers to build on the opportunities for sustainable growth outlined in the Food Wise strategy.”
Billy Kane, Chief Executive of Finance Ireland said:
”The national rollout of MilkFlex is a direct response to demand from Co-Ops across the country who saw how innovative and farmer-friendly the MilkFlex product was. We’re delighted to make it available through participating Co-Ops across the country and expect strong demand for the product over the coming months.”
Eugene O’Callaghan, Director of ISIF said:
“ISIF’s unique mandate gives it the flexibility to support innovative and imaginative funding structures. The national MilkFlex rollout uses this inherent flexibility to deliver an innovative and customised solution that will help Ireland’s agri-food sector to grow and achieve the aims of the Food Wise 2025 strategy. This new product, incorporating additional investment categories, builds on the success of the MilkFlex launch with Glanbia and will make it easier for individual farmers to make the investments they need to enhance their competitiveness and sustainability.”
Kevin Bellamy, Global Sector Head for Dairy in Rabobank said:
“Rabobank is delighted to be involved in financing the national rollout of the MilkFlex product. This endorses the success of the initial MilkFlex product for Glanbia’s suppliers, an initiative in which Rabobank had a dual role as transaction structurer and the largest funder. Rabobank is committed to making a difference as a leading, cooperative, customer-oriented bank worldwide through its Banking for Food strategy. Rabobank wants to make a relevant and sustainable contribution to the global Food & Agri sector. The related aim is to increase the availability of food, improve the access to food, promote healthy nutrition and enhance the stability of the food industry. Rabobank’s contribution to the development of the MilkFlex product and this national rollout is a clear example of the Banking for Food strategy in action. The MilkFlex product is innovative and targeted, delivering affordable and sustainable long-term funding for farmers, in close partnership with other strategic partners.”
Phil Hogan, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said;
“I am very pleased following the success of the Glanbia MilkFlex fund that this product it is now being rolled out nationally and will provide access to flexible, competitively priced finance for all dairy farmers in Ireland.
The addition of new investment categories - energy efficiency, renewable energy, environmental and agricultural technologies, relating to milk production - in this national rollout is very important.
This new model of funding for milk suppliers, which was an international first when rolled out through Glanbia in 2016, significantly mitigates the investment risks for milk suppliers.
It will be a valuable tool in assisting dairy farmers to manage income volatility, which is particularly challenging for family farms across the EU. Using innovative financial instruments to help farm families across Europe is a key priority for me and I am especially pleased to see this rolled out nationally in Ireland.”
Finance Ireland will host a series of workshops with Co-Ops around the country over the coming months to provide information to supplier farmers interested in making an application for funding from the product.
Applications will be assessed and approved by Finance Ireland. As with any lending application, Finance Ireland will require a clear business case in order to justify support of the lending decision. None of the other funders of MilkFlex will play any role in lending decisions or in the provision of advice or otherwise, to individual suppliers who wish to avail of a MilkFlex loan
Subject to completion of the legal documentation, it is expected that the MilkFlex product will be available to farmers from June 2018.
For further information, please contact:
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Finance Ireland, Ireland’s biggest non-bank lender, will originate the loans, which will be subject to underwriting criteria and manage all aspects of the loans. The interest rate charged on the loans will be a variable rate of 3.75% above monthly Euribor, set at a floor of zero.
The loans will have a standard term of eight years but may be extended by up to a maximum of a further two years if volatility triggers are enacted. The key features of the proposed loan product include the following:
- Should the MilkFlex milk price index be less than or equal to 28 cents per litre (cpl) (including VAT) for three consecutive months, both principal and interest repayments will be automatically adjusted downwards by 50% for the following six months. This mechanism can be activated up to four times during the term of the loan;
- Should the MilkFlex milk price index be less than or equal to 26 cpl for three consecutive months, all loan repayments will be automatically suspended for six months. This mechanism can be activated on a maximum of two occasions during the term of the loan;
- Should the MilkFlex milk price index be equal to or greater than 34 cpl for three consecutive months, loan repayments will increase by 25% for the following six months. This mechanism can be activated up to four times during the term of the loan and;
- Upon an outbreak of a notifiable disease which reduces a borrower’s milk volume output materially from the previous year, the loan repayments will be suspended for the following six months.
A loan set-up cost of 1.25% will be deducted from the approved loan.
From a milk supplier perspective, other key features of the proposed loan product include:
• Loan repayments will be automatically deducted from the farmer supplier’s milk receipts by the respective dairy processors. The profile of repayments will reflect the seasonal milk supply curve, with no loan repayments – interest or principal – during the low milk production months from December to March inclusive;
• Loans will be available for amounts of between €25,000 and €300,000;
• Loans will be unsecured but repayments will be prioritised against milk cheques payments;
• Loans can be drawn down for investment in on-farm productive assets to support an existing or growing dairy farm enterprise (including livestock, milking platform infrastructure and land improvement) as well as the additional investment categories of energy efficiency, renewable energy and agricultural technologies relating to milk production;
• Lending decisions will be based on the merit of a farmer’s business plan as opposed to the asset value of their farms subject to meeting eligibility and underwriting criteria;
• Funding will be available for qualifying new entrants to dairy farming and;
• In order to qualify for MilkFlex, a supplier must maintain a valid Milk Supply Agreement (MSA) with his/her Dairy processor for the term of the loan, and be a member of their Co-operative society.
Subject to completion of the legal documentation, it is expected that the product will be made available to farmers from June 2018.
About Finance Ireland
Finance Ireland Group is a diversified financial services business active in commercial mortgage lending, auto finance, leasing, and agri-finance. It is a privately owned business with a significant minority investment by major Irish and international institutional investors. The specialist lender, which was established in 2002 is headquartered in Ballsbridge Dublin 4 and currently employs 100 people.
The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), managed and controlled by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), is a €8.7 billion sovereign development fund with a unique mandate to invest on a commercial basis in a manner designed to support economic activity and employment in Ireland.
ISIF has been a major supporter of Irish agriculture through investments including the highly successful first phase of MilkFlex; the €20m Irish AgTech Fund (in partnership with US investment group Finistere Ventures), a €112m forestry investment fund (in partnership with EIB and the European investment group Dasos); and specialist funding vehicles for SMEs and agri-businesses.
Rabobank is a leading global food and agri bank. A cooperative bank based in the Netherlands, it has 8.6 million clients in 40 countries and €603 billion in total assets. Rabobank’s offices in Ireland are in George’s Dock House, IFSC, Dublin 1.