A €200 million Investment Scheme for Irish agri-food processing and marketing businesses has been announced for the 2020-2025 period.
The scheme will provide direct grants to businesses, with the aim of encouraging innovative investment in the sector. ICOS welcomes this scheme, which comes following calls from ourselves and the industry as a whole for such tools, to enable investment in necessary supply chain and infrastructure adjustments in response to Brexit.
The UK remains the top market for many Irish co-operatives and now, in anticipation of potential new trade barriers as a result of the UK leaving the EU’s single market and customs union at the end of the year, investment is needed and is currently underway in the sector, to diversity product portfolios and develop new international markets.
These investments will provide co-operatives with greater flexibility in their processing abilities no matter the outcome of the EU-UK trade negotiations, so that they can better target their production to products with the greatest market returns and to export markets which are most accessible. This funding will therefore provide a much-needed boost to help this investment take place and prepare the sector for the future EU-UK trading reality.
Not only is this funding to be used for Brexit related adjustments, but also to promote sustainable growth in the sector. This is a key priority for Irish co-operatives as we look to further advance our activities on addressing climate change. This funding, we hope, will be a useful tool to help businesses to take up the opportunities and meet the challenges of the circular, bio and low-carbon economy.
The funding will be administrated by Enterprise Ireland and we look forward to working with them on the details of the scheme to ensure its efficient utilisation by Irish agri-food co-operatives. Specifically, we believe the scheme must:
- Be made available to all agri-food processors and marketers across the country, who will, during the five-year period, begin or are already in the process of investing in their facilities.
- Provide funding rates of 40%, as was in the case in a similar scheme operated in 2007, which provided a beneficial investment boost to the sector.
Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive