The Brexit Impact Loan Scheme, which is designed to help SMEs, farmers and fishers respond to the impact of Brexit has opened for applications today.

The €330m scheme is the successor to the Brexit Loan Scheme, and is open to businesses in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors.

The scheme provides low cost loans of between €25,000 and €1.5 million to eligible businesses, for terms up to six years.

The scheme is delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders, including retail banks and select credit unions around the country.

The first of the participating lenders is Bank of Ireland, with other banks and credit unions to open for applications in the coming weeks.

"These loans can be used to invest in new technologies, necessary upgrades or changes to the business, or even new staff," said Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar.

"It can also be used to help with liquidity or, in some instances, refinancing of existing loans," he added.

The Government said steps have been taken to simplify the application process, in response to feedback about the previous Brexit Loan Scheme.

"I am pleased with the enhancements over the previous scheme and that now, as well as assisting food businesses, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine's support will facilitate the scheme’s availability to farmers and fishers," said Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

"We are all aware that the agri-food sector is uniquely exposed to the economic disruption arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the Government remains committed to providing appropriate supports to all in the sector," he added.

What businesses are eligible?

The Brexit Impact Loan Scheme is available to eligible SME and small Mid-Cap businesses with up to 499 employees.

This includes primary producers - businesses engaged in farming and fishing - that were established in Ireland.

A business must also have experienced an adverse impact of minimum 15% in actual or projected turnover or profit due to the impact of Brexit.