Wednesday February 3, 2021

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar T.D. and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie Mc Conalogue T.D. today opened the first call for applications under the Government’s €100 million Scheme for the Agri-food sector.

The Scheme agreed by Government at the end of 2020, has been established in recognition of the sector’s unique exposure to the impact of Brexit. Up to €70 million is available under the first call, which is being administered by Enterprise Ireland. It is open to large, medium or small enterprises, engaged in the processing and marketing of primary meat and dairy products to apply.

Galway Minister of State Anne Rabbitte said:

I welcome this announcement for the very important agri-food sector which will ensure that the food industry can invest now in projects that will underpin sustainable development over the next decade.  I urge eligible companies are to submit an application or enquire about eligibility  to CIS@enterprise-ireland.com closing date on Thursday 15th April.

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar T.D. said:

The trade deal agreed with the U.K. last December mitigated against a doomsday scenario for the Agri-food sector, however there is no doubt that Brexit will still have a significant impact. This Fund, which will put €100m investment into helping the sector adapt, diversify and innovate, is one of the ways we are helping the sector respond.

Agri-food production is a major employer here, employing more than 173,000 people. This Fund will not only help secure these existing jobs, but will also help companies explore new technologies, creating new jobs.

This is just one of the ways the Government is helping the agri-food sector. Low-cost loan schemes, direct aid for farmers, and additional resources from Bord Bia are also available to help the sector at this really challenging time.

Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D., stated:

Sustainability, competitiveness and innovation are vital so that our agri-food sector continues to grow in existing and new markets.  That often requires significant capital outlay and this new fund is designed to ensure that the food industry can invest now in projects that will underpin its sustainable development over the next decade. The projects that will qualify for funding are focused on the future, supporting either new products and/or new market diversification strategies. I hope that the Government’s support for these strategic investments will bring benefits for all those along the supply chain, particularly farmers as the primary producer of our food offering.

As with any public funding, detailed terms and conditions will apply to this scheme, which will be awarded by Enterprise Ireland on the basis of a competitive call.

Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity Senator Pippa Hackett added:

The scheme has been designed to ensure that environmental impacts, at the primary as well as at the processing level, will be fully taken into account in assessing applications.  That is a really important development – and not just because of the impact it will have, but also because of the signal, it sends to businesses in all areas, that this government does expect them to put climate, the environment, and sustainability at the centre of everything they do.

Minister of State with responsibility for New Market Development Martin Heydon said:

This scheme is an important and timely boost for the sector and complements our ambitious strategy to advance market access and market development for Irish food exports in key international markets, in collaboration with Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and our Embassy network. This important new initiative will help our agri-food sector adapt to the new post-Brexit reality, support the sector in both product and market diversification, promoting our top-quality food products to consumers in growing new markets, and contributing to long-term resilience in the sector.

CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon said:

This is a very timely fund that supports the future product and market diversification of the agri-food sector at a particularly challenging time.  The challenges and opportunities facing Irish food include the fundamental change in our trading relationship with our largest market, the UK, opportunities in other markets and in sustainable food production.  Having access to a capital investment fund will accelerate transformational investments by companies in the sector to ensure that these challenges and opportunities are addressed, that Irish food continues to be highly valued in export markets and is produced in a sustainable way.

All relevant documentation is now available on Enterprise Ireland’s website. A week of consultation and briefing will commence immediately. A webinar for applicants hosted by Enterprise Ireland will be available on the 9th February and companies can make enquiries to CIS@enterprise-ireland.com.

Eligible companies are invited to submit applications from Wednesday 10th February until the closing date on Thursday 15th April.