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Minister Smith announces grant aid for Seed Potato Sector

Mr Brendan Smith T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, today announced a further grant aid programme for the development of the seed potato sector. The programme, under the framework of the National Development Plan, will fund capital investment projects for specialised seed production in 2006. A grant package of 35% applies under the scheme.

Announcing the scheme Minister Smith said it follows on last year's success where 14 seed potato growers were approved funding for capital investments of over €2m. The funding is aimed at improving the production and marketing infrastructure of the seed potato sector. "The overall aim is to develop a competitive seed sector with strong linkages with ware growers to ensure that the potato industry continues to grow to its full potential" said Minister Smith.

Minister Smith said that a vibrant seed sector was critical for the future development of the whole potato industry which is worth around ?80m for the 700 or so growers involved. "The need to protect our very high plant health status and exploit many of our natural advantages in addition to our publicly funded research programmes are key objectives in the overall plan for the sector" said minister Smith.

The closing date for receipt of applications under the scheme is 31st May 2006. Only investments carried out after this date will be eligible under the scheme.

Details of the scheme and application forms can be obtained from Crop Production and Safety Division, Department of Agriculture and Food, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Tel 01 5053344/5053328 or at www.agriculture.gov.ie

3 May 2006

Date Released: 03 May 2006