The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, recently launched the ‘LEADER Food Initiative’ – a €15 million national fund for artisan/small food and beverage businesses.

The Initiative will provide financial supports to new and existing businesses for the renovation and extension of production facilities and the purchasing of processing equipment, as well as for costs associated with market development, competitiveness, and innovation.

Support for food and beverage producers, may include, but is not limited to, the following:

 – Artisan, Micro and Small food producers (up to 50 employees)
 – Regional product development, including a focus on marketing distinctive local foodstuffs
 – Marketing and processing for strategically identified sectors, including honey and apple processors
 – Improved marketing, product quality and business skills

The maximum amount of funding available is €200,000 per project and funding will be provided for both capital investment and softer supports related to analysis and development or training. An initial tranche of €5 million will be allocated in 2018. It is anticipated that the remaining €10 million of this LEADER Food Initiative funding will be rolled out during 2019 and 2020.

Announcing the scheme, Minister Ring said: “The LEADER Food Initiative will make a vital contribution to the development of local food businesses which are central to the economic sustainability of rural areas and an important source of local jobs. Many local artisan producers have wonderful products but require additional investment in production facilities, equipment, processing and marketing which can help them take the next step and bring their product to a wider market.

Wexford Local Development (WLD) are the implementation partners for Wexford Local Community Development Committee in delivering the LEADER Programme in the county. WLD are now inviting County Wexford based artisan and small food businesses with up to fifty employees to contact them to discuss the available funding opportunities.

The contact details for this funding opportunity are as follows:
• Wexford and Gorey districts – Tom Bermingham, email: tbermingham@wld.ie
• Enniscorthy and New Ross districts – Helena Dempsey, email: hdempsey@wld.ie