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Minister Coughlan launches fund for capital investments in processing for beef and sheepmeat sectors

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today officially launched the Beef and Sheepmeat Fund, an investment aid package amounting to €50 million for the beef and sheepmeat processing sectors. This initiative is funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 and should trigger €120 million worth of investments. It will be managed by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Food.

Beef and sheepmeat processing are among Ireland's most important indigenous industries and are vital components of the agri-food sector. Together they have an annual turnover of some €3 billion, with exports of €2 billion in 2006. The fund is designed to support capital investment, which is expected to increase scale in primary processing, increase added value in further processing and improve efficiencies to allow Irish companies compete internationally.

Minister Coughlan referred to the recognised need to adapt positively and efficiently to evolving market demands and standards. "I am delighted with this investment package and am confident that it will ensure the strategic and coherent development of the sectors into the future and, in so doing, not only strengthen primary processing but also underpin agricultural incomes." She added that in the past few years, there has been a dramatic shift in the market focus of the Irish beef sector. From a time when there was very high dependence on non-EU markets, the industry now sells close on 90% of its exports as fresh product on the EU market, where quality of product and efficiency of the supply chain are essential components. The investment fund launched today will, according to the Minister, consolidate our position in this market.

Minister Coughlan announced the detailed arrangements for the implementation of the Fund. Application forms are now available and should be submitted to Enterprise Ireland by 28th June 2007. The Minister thanked Enterprise Ireland for their valuable input and expertise in setting up the Fund. Funding will be in the form of a grant. In order to qualify, the total eligible capital expenditure on investment in the processing of Annex 1 meat products must be at least €2 million.

Two types of projects are eligible:

  • Projects focused on primary processing which can demonstrate efficiency improvements and/or market sustainability.
  • Projects focused on further processing which can demonstrate increased value-added activities, provided that they can demonstrate commercial markets for products within the context of a business plan.

Concluding, the Minister indicated her conviction that the investment will contribute to underpinning the strategic and coherent development of these sectors and ultimately position our producers to avail of export opportunities into the future.

Applicants should note that Expressions of Interest, in the designated format, which are available on-line, should be submitted to Enterprise Ireland within one week of this announcement.

Full details of the fund are available online at www.enterprise-ireland.com

25 April, 2007

Date Released: 25 April 2007