‘LEADER Food Initiative’ provides €15 million in supports for artisan and small food businesses – Ministers Ring and Creed

Businesses can receive up to €200,000 each under Initiative

 The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, today launched the ‘LEADER Food Initiative’ a €15 million fund for the artisan/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.

“The LEADER Food Initiative will allow for the provision of financial supports for the renovation and extension of production facilities and the purchasing of processing equipment. This type of investment, and a strong focus on improved skills, can make all the difference in creating a successful, sustainable business.

“The LEADER Food Initiative will support investment in marketing, product quality and supply chain skills for these food producers. There will also be a focus on marketing distinctive local and regional food products. I have no doubt that this Initiative will provide a huge boost to the food sector and help improve the marketing and delivery of the wonderful food products that we have. There is significant local, national and international demand for Irish artisan food and the LEADER Food Initiative will enable producers to get their product to a wider market.

“As Minister with responsibility for the LEADER Programme, I am backing this Initiative because it has the potential to help create jobs in rural areas. 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.”

Minister Creed said “Food Wise 2025, the strategy for the agri-food industry acknowledges the unique and important position of artisan and small food businesses in both the rural and national economy and the need to support the sector to realise its potential.

“This initiative will complement existing supports for artisan and small food businesses provided by my Department and State agencies, including Food Works, developed by Bord Bia, Teagasc and Enterprise Ireland for start-up food entrepreneurs; and retailer programmes, for example SuperValu’s Food Academy. Bord Bia has a dedicated website, www.bordbiavantage.ie , with detailed information on the supports and opportunities for small food businesses.

“This specific funding is to support capital investment and the purchasing of processing equipment in addition to addressing emerging challenges through investment in areas such as market development, competitiveness and innovation”.

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 at the following link: https://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/list-of-LAGs.pdf