The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, this week launched the ‘LEADER Food Initiative’ a €15 million fund for artisan and small food and beverage businesses.
The Initiative will provide financial supports, including for the renovation and extension of production facilities and the purchasing of processing equipment, as well as supporting participants in the artisan food and beverage sector in areas such as market development, competitiveness, and innovation.
The maximum amount of funding available is €200,000 per project and funding will be provided for both capital investment and softer supports related to analysis and development or training. This includes support for collaborative proposals where food businesses jointly address common processing and marketing challenges.
The initial tranche of €5 million will be allocated in 2018. Based on the experience in delivering the initial tranche of funding, it is anticipated that the remaining €10 million of this LEADER Food Initiative funding will be rolled out by 2020.
Announcing the scheme, Minister Ring said: “The LEADER Food Initiative will make a vital contribution to the development of local food businesses which are central to the economic sustainability of rural areas and an important source of local jobs. Many local artisan producers have wonderful products but require additional investment in production facilities, equipment, processing and marketing which can help them take the next step and bring their product to a wider market…
“Employment increased in almost every region of the country in 2017 and almost nine out of every 10 new jobs were outside of the Dublin region. The LEADER Food Initiative will lead to further job creation in our regions and help create sustainable rural livelihoods.”
Ministers Ring and Creed concluded by encouraging artisan and small food businesses in rural Ireland to contact the Local Action Group (LAG) or Implementing Partner in their area as soon as possible to discuss the available funding opportunities. All applications for funding will be managed through the LEADER LAGs. The LAG contact details are available on drcd.gov.ie.