The second call for applications under the Government's €100m scheme for the agri-food sector has been launched.
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The scheme, introduced by Government at the end of 2020, was set up in recognition of the agri-food sector's unique exposure to the impact of Brexit and other global trading challenges.
Up to €30m is available under this second call, which is being administered by Enterprise Ireland.
The scheme is open to large, medium and small enterprises who are engaged in the processing and marketing of primary meat and dairy products.
Launching the second call for applications, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said that Irish companies, including companies in the agri-food sector, prepared remarkably well for Brexit.
He said that as a result of their resilience, they managed to avoid the worst-case scenario once feared.
But he said we do not take that hard-work for granted.
"Such a fundamental change in our trading relationship with our largest export market has had really significant consequences and the Government has been and will continue to be, on hand to help the more than 173,000 people that work in the agri-food sector to adapt, diversify and innovate in a sustainable way," Leo Varadkar said.
The first call under the scheme saw 22 projects approved for €70m in funding.
The Tánaiste said the funds went into businesses across the country, to develop new products for new customers and new markets.
"From helping Slaney Foods in Wexford increase the capacity of its frozen food offering so it could send its product further afield, to supporting Glanbia to diversify away from cheddar to other cheeses such as Gouda, more suited to Chinese and Japanese markets, this funding has made a real difference," he said,
"Today we're announcing a further call, for €30m, which I hope will be a further boost to Irish agri-food business, helping them continue to compete and win in international markets creating further jobs across the country," he added.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said the €100m capital fund for the agri-food industry is about futureproofing the country's world-class agri-food industry.
He said the Government is assisting companies to make the capital investment now that will pay dividends in the years ahead and allow them to develop new products and enter new markets.
"The agri-food sector internationally is changing rapidly, with an enhanced consumer demand for sustainable production," Mr McConalogue said.
"The scheme will enable food processing companies become more operationally resilient through the pursuit of product/market diversification strategies which complement the ambition set out in Food Vision 2030, Ireland's 10-year plan for the agri-food sector," he said.
"A more competitive meat and dairy processing sector will help to support the economic, environmental and social sustainability of farmers as our primary producers," he added.
Leo Clancy, the chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, said the "important" fund is already accelerating transformational investments by companies in the agri-food sector.
"This is a particularly challenging time for the sector and ensuring companies have the capability to invest now for the future is important to ensure that world-renowned Irish food products continue to be highly valued in export markets and produced in a sustainable way," he added. ■