I am delighted to join Government colleagues Minister Humphreys and McConalogue, in announcing an additional €883,000 in funding for the LEADER Food Initiative (LFI) Scheme. This scheme supports artisan, micro, small food producers or on-farm diversification enterprises in rural Ireland.
This funding call will support farmers and other artisan, micro and small food businesses in the Midlands and right across rural Ireland to establish sustainable routes to market and to showcase their locally grown and produced, high quality, sustainable Irish food.
It is targeted at eligible small food businesses in line with a commitment in the Programme for Government 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”.
Each enterprising step taken by a rural person towards sustainable employment for themselves and others, no matter how small, is another thread woven into the fabric of a local community. I am delighted to be part of a Government supporting this and particularly in an area of personal interest to me, local and sustainable food. I know from my own area of the Midlands that there is a wealth of food expertise and ideas for development and I encourage all eligible producers to avail of this opportunity of support.
The maximum amount of funding per project permitted under this call is €200,000 and funding proposals must not be for less than €5,000 per project. Potential applicants are encouraged to engage with their Local Action ( Leader ) Groups with regard to the deadline for applications of 31 August 2023 .
The LEADER programme is delivered by 29 Local Action Groups (LAGs) in 28 sub-regional areas. These groups are partnerships of public and private entities from a defined geographical area. The current LEADER Programme will soon be replaced by the next iteration, LEADER Programme 2023–2027. Further information in relation to the Programme will issue in due course.
The LEADER Food Initiative opened in May 2018 as part of Ireland’s 2014 – 2020 Rural Development Programme to support the further development of food and beverage businesses throughout rural Ireland, and closed in December 2021, with 168 projects benefitting of the €15 million LFI funding allocated.
The LFI is delivered using the LEADER model and is managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development, with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The maximum amount of funding per project permitted under this call is €200,000 and funding proposals must not be for less than €5,000 per project.
The selection process for project applications involves two stages:
Stage 1 - request for approval in principle by DRCD
Stage 2 - final approval of project by DRCD & DAFM
Approved projects must be fully completed by 31 March 2024.
Final claims for payment must be submitted to the DRCD no later than 30 June 2024.