Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Ceisteanna (51)

James Browne


51. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to promote the local food trade here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49051/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Artisan and speciality food businesses can have a significant impact on local rural economies and their importance is acknowledged in the Food Wise 2025 strategy. Growth prospects for the sector are positive overall, driven by increased consumer interest in the provenance of food, environmental concerns, health and a desire to support the local economy.

A range of supports for this particular sector is available both from my Department and in links with other Government Departments.

I understand that approximately 500 artisan and speciality food companies with a turnover of between €100,000 to €3.5m are registered with Bord Bia for supports and services they offer, include marketing assistance, specialised training, capacity building and promotion.

Funding under the Rural Innovation & Development Fund is provided by my Department for initiatives designed to promote agri-food tourism in rural areas. Agri-food tourism broadly is the practice of offering an activity or activities in rural areas to visit areas of well-known agricultural produce and to sample and taste the local or regional cuisine or specialties. It also encompasses local food, farmer and artisan market schemes that support and are paired with local and seasonal food producers and artisan crafts. Following the 2019 call for proposals, I announced funding totalling €243,000 for twelve agri-food tourism projects in June this year.

Last year, together with my colleague the Minister for Rural and Community Development, I launched the ‘LEADER Food Initiative'. This funding is provided from my Department under the Rural Development Programme (RDP), and is delivered using the LEADER methodology via the Department of Rural and Community Development. It supports new and existing artisan, micro and small food producers to address emerging challenges through investment in areas such as capital equipment, market development, competitiveness and innovation. I understand that 34 projects with a total value of more than €1.9 million have been approved under the Scheme to date.

The Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation also provide funding for local food initiatives through the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), thirty one dedicated teams located in the Local Authorities nationwide which provide expert advice and guidance to all small businesses.

Taken together, all of these initiatives support farm and local community diversification and help farmers and small food businesses to connect with the wider community. From a Government perspective, they provide a collaborative framework for different Departments and agencies to work together for the development of the Small Business food sector.