Time is running out for small food businesses in Inishowen to apply for the funding worth between €5,000 and €200,000 under the LEADER Food Initiative before the deadline of 5.30pm on August 31st.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD; together with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD; and Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett have announced a new call for applications to the LEADER Food Initiative (LFI).

The call is targeted at eligible small food businesses in line with a commitment in the Programme for Government, ‘Our Shared Future’, to support the small food producer, providing support for on-farm diversification enterprises and investment in local processing facilities, allowing farmers to sell their products into the local and wider domestic markets.

IDP, who manage applications for this initiative, are calling on local artisan, micro and small food businesses to get in touch with them in the Carndonagh office to see if they can avail of this opportunity.

The LEADER Food Initiative was allocated €15 million as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014 -2020 and was launched in May 2018 to support the further development of food and beverage businesses throughout rural Ireland. Of the allocated amount, at least €883,000 in funding has become available for various reasons, e.g. project withdrawals, or projects completing for less than the grant amount approved.

This new call is specifically targeted towards the following groups to enable them to diversify, expand and develop:

• on-farm diversification enterprises; and

• artisan, micro and small food businesses.

The maximum amount of funding permitted per project under this call is €200,000 and funding proposals must not be for less than €5,000 per project. Additionally, projects must be fully completed by 31 March 2024.

Announcing the final call for applications, all three Ministers urged Local Action Groups to engage with potential applicants for this funding in their areas and to submit any project proposals they may have to the Department of Rural and Community Development seeking funding approval in principle for these projects.

All project proposals for this call must be submitted by the LAG to food1420@drcd.gov.ie by 5:30 pm on 31st August 2023.

Announcing the call for applications at Castleblayney Agricultural Show, Minister Humphreys said:

“Following a review of the LEADER Food Initiative, I am delighted to announce that funding of €883,000 is now available. This is a fantastic opportunity for Artisan, Micro, Small food producers or on-farm diversification enterprises in rural Ireland to avail of funding to enhance the products and services they offer. Supporting small business in rural Ireland and creating employment opportunities is key to ‘Our Rural Future’, the government’s rural development policy. This call is to help ensure that all of the €15 million initially allocated to the LEADER Food Initiative is utilised and it further demonstrates how my Department supports projects in communities throughout rural Ireland. I hope that all the Local Action Groups and their Implementing Partners will engage with all eligible enterprises in their areas and submit their eligible project proposals to my Department for consideration.”

Commenting on the development, Minister McConalogue said:

“I am delighted to launch this renewed call for applications to the LEADER Food initiative, which has been an important avenue to date for supporting diversification and innovation in our food industry in recent years, as well as providing support to our rural economy. I encourage all artisan, micro and small food businesses to avail of this opportunity of support which will allow them to expand their offerings and to innovate thereby helping their businesses to thrive, and deliver high-quality products to their communities, and beyond. It is important that Local Action Groups and their Implementing Partners engage with potential applicants for this Call with due regard to the 31 August 2023 deadline for project proposals.”

Minister Hackett said:

“This new call is a very welcome development, and I would encourage all producers who might be eligible to engage with their Local Action Groups and to develop their project proposals so that they can submit an application over the next few weeks. This funding round will support farmers and other artisan, micro and small food businesses right across rural Ireland to establish sustainable routes to market and to showcase their locally grown and produced, high quality, sustainable Irish food.”

Coinciding with this announcement, Minister Humphreys has also extended the timeframe for approval of all LEADER funded projects from 30th August 2023 to 31st December 2023 and the completion date deadline for all projects from 31st December 2023 to the 31st March 2024.

Minister Humphreys said:

“As we are coming close to the end of the current LEADER programme, and in order to enable the Local Action Groups to allocate any unallocated funding they may have, I am extending the timeframe for approval of funding to projects from 30 August 2023 to 31 December 2023. I am also extending the completion date deadline for all projects from 31 December 2023 to 31 March 2024.”

For more information on the initiative or to see if you can can avail of this contact Anne or Gillian in the Carn office on 074-937 3083