The LEADER Food Initiative offers €15m in supports for artisan and small food businesses.
Artisan, small food and beverage businesses can receive up to €200,000 each, said Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, when they recently launched the initiative.
Projects for LEADER support must be in the areas of market development, competitiveness, or innovation, and in line with local development strategy frameworks.
New and existing producers will be helped to address challenges through investment in market development, competitiveness, and innovation.
The initiative will provide financial supports, including for the renovation and extension of production facilities and the purchasing of processing equipment.
The maximum 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 €5m will be allocated in 2018.
This budget is subject to review based on the level of demand.
Based on the experience in delivering the initial tranche of funding, it is anticipated that the remaining €10m of this LEADER Food Initiative funding will be rolled out by 2020.
Announcing the scheme, Mr Ring said 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.
He said there will also be a focus in the LEADER Food Initiative on marketing distinctive local and regional food products.
Support areas may include marketing and processing for strategically identified sectors, including honey and apple processing.
If the applicant is not a food business (for example, a local development company), the project must deliver benefit to artisan, micro and small food producers.
They should contact their 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.
LAG contact details are available online at drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/list-of-LAGs.pdf
Project applications evaluated and selected by the LAG will be considered for approval on a first come, first served basis by the Departments of Agriculture and Rural and Community Development .