DOZENS of small and medium sized Kilkenny businesses are expected to remain in business and prosper thanks to a new fund.
Reacting to criticism to the way the EU funds small food producers, Phil Hogan, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has announced that €5 million will be provided to support the creation and development of Agri-Food enterprises in rural Ireland.
Based on recent research conducted by the Local Development sector this funding has the potential to create more than 200 jobs directly as well as sustaining a number of jobs currently available in the sector.
This funding, provided under the Adding Value to Agricultural Products measure of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP) will bridge the gap generated when this type of funding was suspended under the Business Creation and Development Measure of the RDP in early 2011 and will provide much needed support to Artisan food producers in Ireland.
This gap had been highlighted by Mr Dclan Rice of Kilkenny Leader Partnership. The funding will be delivered using the “bottom up” LEADER approach through the 35 Local Development Companies contracted to deliver the RDP in Ireland.
Announcing the funding Minister Hogan said that the Agri-Food sector is one of Ireland’s most important indigenous manufacturing sectors and continues to make a very significant contribution to the Irish economy in a difficult economic environment.
“A significant part of enterprise activity in rural areas focuses on food and food-related businesses and the continued provision of support for these businesses is critical as we look to ways to generate employment in rural Ireland. LEADER has a long and productive history of support for the agri-food sector in Ireland and I am happy to announce this funding which will continue to ensure this support,” he said.
“Based on recent research conducted by the Local Development sector this funding has the potential to create more than 200 jobs directly as well as sustaining a number of jobs currently available in the sector. The funding will also stimulate economic activity in rural areas which will, in turn create a more robust environment for further job creation. I am confident this funding will assist in the creation and development of agri-food products that will contribute to the continued success of this sector and in turn support Ireland’s recovery process going forward,” he said. The Minister added that anyone wishing to inquire about this funding should contact Kilkenny Leader Partnership.