The funding, which will be made up of a €200m capital investment scheme in agri-food processing and marketing, will be of major benefit to the Irish meat and dairy industries.
The investment was welcomed by Meat Industry Ireland (MII). Its senior director Cormac Healy said: “Maintaining our meat processing facilities to world class standards in order to deliver the best customers for Irish meat requires significant ongoing capital investment by processing companies. However, the challenges for the meat sector associated with Brexit, now necessitate even more extensive investment in projects to drive competitiveness throughout processing and to innovate processes and our meat offering to existing and new markets. As well as looking to develop new markets and customers for Irish meat exports, MII members will be making every effort to retain market share for Irish meat in the UK market, an increasingly difficult task in the years ahead.
“MII looks forward to working with Government departments and Enterprise Ireland to establish the full detail of a new investment programme and to have this funded immediately so that important and time-consuming investment projects can commence throughout the country. It is essential that no further time is lost in taking these steps.”
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said it will “provide opportunities for the food industry”.
“This approval, negotiated over the last two years by my Department officials, will provide opportunities for the food industry to make the significant investments required for product and market diversification. It represents a significant response by the Commission, working with Ireland to mitigate the effects of a significantly challenging external market environment (such as Brexit) for the industry.”
Enterprise Ireland will develop and administer a grant aid scheme to allocate the funding.
Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said: “The scheme will support increased innovation and international competitiveness in the agriculture sector, and jobs in the regions, which will be particularly important in the context of Brexit.”
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys added: “Ireland’s reputation as a source of high-quality food and drink is among our most cherished national assets. In a period of change and uncertainty with regards to the dynamics of global food supply, it has never been more important to highlight the long-standing principles of sustainability that underwrite our food production systems.”