Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Schemes

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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247. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the request in a document by an organisation and organisations (details supplied) in relation to expanding small scale, local food production in particular, scale up local and innovative initiatives that shorten, amplify and democratise local food supply chains linking producers to consumers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23339/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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In relation to the development of farm shops, niche products, and ecotourism, projects for such initiatives can be funded, subject to eligibility conditions being met, by the LEADER Food Initiative funded by my Department as part of the Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and which I was pleased to extend for 2021. The measure provides support for artisan, micro and small food and beverage businesses including for the renovation and extension of production facilities, the purchasing of processing equipment, as well as market development, competitiveness, and innovation.

The LEADER Food Initiative is implemented through the LEADER Local Action Groups under the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Rural and Community Development. Recently, 'Our Rural Future', the Government’s ambitious new policy for the development of rural Ireland, launched in March 2021, outlines the importance of the Agri-food sector and in particular the role that the LEADER Food Initiative continues to play to support artisan, micro and small food producers, (new or existing) to develop and innovative their businesses.

Food and farmers' markets have experienced considerable growth in recent years. I am pleased that Bord Bia has developed webinars on farmers’ market skills training workshops to support new and existing members of the food market network. The workshops provide practical solutions to the challenges most frequently faced by market sellers. A guide to selling through farmers markets, farm shops and box schemes in Ireland is also available.

The Programme for Government includes commitments to encourage and support local authorities to expand the number of farmers’ markets, farm shops and food emporiums, and to support the formation of community-owned markets in all towns, showcasing local food produce from local farmers, growers and food producers. In addition to the supports outlined above, my Department is engaging with other relevant Departments to explore further options.

The Draft 2030 Agri-Food Strategy embraces a food systems approach. The draft Strategy is now the subject of an Environmental Assessment Public Consultation, open until 15thJune. The draft Strategy has a high ambition for primary producers, focusing on the premiumisation of output, increased integration of certain sectors, diversification of activity and income streams as well as enhancing consumer trust in our food system, providing evidence of a safe, ethical and environmentally sustainable food supply.

I am satisfied that the current measures in place, along with those proposed in the Draft Agri Food 2030 strategy, will provide a sound basis for the future development of local food and innovative food production initiatives.


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