Meat and dairy processors will be eligible to apply for funding under a new €100m scheme for the food processing sector.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced the scheme on Monday night [28 December].
The Capital Investment Scheme for the Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products will be managed by Enterprise Ireland and will open in January.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Ireland’s agri-food sector is particularly exposed to the negative impact of Brexit.
“More than 173,000 people work in the agri-food industry here. Not only do we want to protect those existing jobs as we weather the Brexit storm, but we also want to grow them. This funding is to allow businesses invest in new technology and new products, making the sector stronger and more resilient,” he said.
Agriculture minister Minister Charlie McConalogue said the €100m support scheme would assist food processors to diversify their product ranges and markets in order to best support their export activity and primary producers.
“Working with my colleague, Minister of State Martin Heydon, who has specific responsibility for new market development, we have a particular focus in 2021 to advance market access for Irish food exports to key international markets, in collaboration with Bord Bia and our embassy network," Minister McConalogue said.
Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said the fund would allow the primary food processing sector to make the necessary capital expenditure to increase their global diversification in response to Brexit.
The scheme will be open to large, medium and small meat and dairy processors.
To be successful in attaining funding, the companies must be focused on the production of new and/or improved higher value add products, and/or production processes, required for new markets, and not principally focused on the processing of increased volumes of raw materials.
The processors must have total eligible capital expenditure of between €1m and €25m.
The maximum aid will be up to 30% of the eligible investment costs, up to a maximum direct grant of €5m.
The Government statement said the scheme is just one of a range of supports for the sector, quoting low-cost loan schemes, direct aid schemes for farmers, and additional resources for Bord Bia’s marketing work as other examples.