Written answers

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Department of Agriculture and Food

Agricultural Processing Sectors

10:00 am

Photo of Peter KellyPeter Kelly (Longford-Roscommon, Fianna Fail)
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Question 189: To ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food her plans for investment in the dairy, beef and sheep processing sectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3692/07]

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Minister, Department of Agriculture and Food; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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In keeping with commitments given in the Agri-Vision 2015 Action Plan, I announced over recent months, investment packages totalling €150 million to support the development of the dairy, beef and sheepmeat processing sectors. €100 million is for the dairy sector while €50 million is being provided for the beef and sheepmeat sectors. This substantial grant assistance, which should trigger investment in excess of €400 million, is yet another clear indication of the Government's commitment to the continued development of a modern, competitive, innovative and market-focused food industry.

Financial support will be made available towards the cost of the construction and acquisition of buildings, new machinery and equipment and will significantly assist the industry in improving efficiency and competitiveness. Indeed, it is important to acknowledge the constructive response in recent years, of the dairy, beef and sheepmeat sectors to the challenges presented in an ever-changing market. This has made a major contribution to the enhanced status and reputation of Irish produce abroad. In Government we strive to lead that progress and assist stakeholders by adopting pragmatic, if ambitious, policies in supporting the development of the sectors.

The investment schemes will be managed by Enterprise Ireland who will evaluate the suitability of investment projects submitted for grant assistance.

I launched the Dairy Investment Fund in September 2006 with applications accepted until 23 November. The Dairy Fund will support Annex 1 dairy projects where the input and output is a minimum of 75% Annex 1. I was very pleased to be informed by Enterprise Ireland that the Dairy Investment Fund was over subscribed.

The scheme for the beef and sheepmeat processing sectors was announced on 8 November 2006 and the initial response from the industry was very positive. In order to underpin the effectiveness of this fund, ongoing consultations are continuing between officials in my Department and Enterprise Ireland aimed at finalising the full eligibility criteria and terms and conditions of the scheme. These will be announced once they are finalised.

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