LEADER Food Initiative will continue in 2021 – and Higher Rates of Aid
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D, has confirmed that the LEADER Food Initiative, which provides funding support for new and existing artisan, micro and small food producers, will continue next year during the CAP transition period.
Minister McConalogue stated,
“I am pleased that this important programme will continue next year, and that there will be an increase in the maximum rate of aid from 50% to 75% in line with changes to LEADER generally. This decision ensures that continued funding will be available to assist small food producers to develop new food offerings, new routes to sell their produce, and to support the rural economy at this critical time.”
“I want to acknowledge that artisan and small food businesses have shown great innovation in adapting their operations to help connect with consumers during 2020. I would encourage small food producers to develop their plans now, to be ready to apply when the next round of applications opens in April 2021.”
The Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, commented, “The LEADER Food Initiative can provide supports to suppliers of local food markets, which play an important role in showcasing local food produce from local farmers, growers and food producers. I encourage those producers to avail of the funding opportunities under this Food Initiative, as well as the other State supports available for food entrepreneurs all over the country.”
The €15 million LEADER Food Initiative, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the Rural Development Programme, will continue to support new and existing food and beverage producers in areas such as (1) market development, (2) competitiveness, and (3) innovation. A new call for applications will be launched in 2021, following on from an initial €5m call in 2018, for which approvals have been issued. The maximum amount of funding permitted is €200,000 per project.
The LEADER Food Initiative measure providing support for artisan, micro and small food and beverage businesses was launched in 2018. The measure is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the Rural Development Programme and is implemented through the LEADER Programme under the responsibility of the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) and as part of the Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
The LEADER Food Initiative provides financial supports to participants in the artisan food and beverage sector in areas such as market development, competitiveness, and innovation as well as for the renovation and extension of production facilities and the purchasing of processing equipment. Eligible businesses are those with an annual turnover of up to €10m and employing fewer than 50 people. LEADER payments for projects are made by the Local Action Groups based on expenditure incurred by project promoters for projects that have been allocated funding.
The transitional programme will commence on 1 April 2021 as a transitional measure between the ending of the current 2014-2020 LEADER Programme and the start of the next EU CAP, which is not likely to commence until 2023. New projects may be approved up until 31 December 2022.