I wish to welcome the opening of the new Grant Aid Scheme for the Development of the Organic off-farm Processing Sector, and urge Meath based processors, who have shown a great interest in innovation and expansion, to apply.
The new scheme, which is wholly exchequer-funded, runs for the lifetime of the Rural Development Programme and will support investments for off-farm projects. Processors can apply for grants of up to €500,000 for investment in facilities for the processing, preparation, grading, packing and storage of organic products with minimum level of investment in excess of €3,000. €5m has been earmarked for the new scheme over its lifetime.
This Government is committed to developing the organic sector as an opportunity for the Irish agri-food sector in general and this Scheme is a further initiative to help existing organic processors meet the growing demand for organic food, both in Ireland and abroad.
Furthermore I am aware that many Meath companies have already made strides in this area, and will wish to continue to do so. Many Meath food companies have shown a flair for innovation in their enterprises, which as well as leading to new, local and sustainable jobs has resulted in Meath Enterprise, Meath County Council and industry partners seeking to make the County a Food Innovation and Research Hub of national and indeed international standing. I fully support these stakeholders in their efforts to create the Boyne Valley Food Hub.
Substantial support for organic farmers already exists through the new TAMS Organic Capital Investment Scheme which was launched recently and this new off-farm scheme now offers similar support for the organic processing sector.
Copies of the terms and conditions of the new Grant Scheme, together with application forms, are available from the Organic Farming Unit, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle, Wexford. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 053-9163400