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Small food businesses urged to apply for LEADER funding

Small food businesses have been urged to apply for grants as part of an additional call for applications to the LEADER Food Initiative.

The initiative was launched in May 2018 to support the further development of food and beverage businesses throughout rural Ireland.

168 projects were allocated a total of €15 million as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014 -2020.

However, now at least €883,000 in funding has become available for various reasons, such as projects being withdrawn or being completed for less than their approved grant amount.


The LEADER funding aims to “support the small food producer, providing support for on-farm diversification enterprises and investment in local processing facilities, allowing farmers to sell their products into the local and wider domestic markets”.

This new call is specifically targeted towards on-farm diversification enterprises and artisan, micro and small food businesses.

The maximum amount of funding permitted per project under this call is €200,000 and funding proposals must not be for less than €5,000/project.

The successful projects must be fully completed by March 31, 2024.

All proposals for this call must be submitted by the Local Action Groups and their project partners by 5:30p.m on August 31, 2023.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, together with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett have today (Monday, August 7) announced the new call for applications.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for artisan, micro, small food producers or on-farm diversification enterprises in rural Ireland to avail of funding to enhance the products and services they offer,” Minister Humphreys said.

Minister McConalogue said that the LEADER Food initiative has been an important avenue for supporting diversification and innovation in the food industry in recent years, as well as providing support to our rural economy.

As part of today’s announcement, Minister Humphreys has also extended the timeframe for approval of all LEADER funded projects from August 30, 2023 to December 31, 2023 and the completion date deadline for all projects from December 31, 2023 to the March 31, 2024.

As the current LEADER programme is coming to a close, the minister said this will help Local Action Groups to distribute any unallocated funding they may have.

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