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Poots launches £1million equipment fund for micro food businesses


Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA pictured launching the £1million Micro Food Business Investment Scheme at the Food Innovation Centre, Loughry Campus of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Enterprise

Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA has launched a £1million capital grant scheme to help existing micro food and drink manufacturing businesses upscale production, through the purchase of new equipment, with the aim of securing new markets for their products.


Under the scheme grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 are available for eligible businesses that are processing primary agricultural or horticultural produce to commence supplying to the retail or distribution industry; or to increase the quantity of products they are selling to the retail or distribution industry; or to grow sales outside of Northern Ireland.


Expressions of interest for the scheme will be accepted from 8 March 2021.

Launching the scheme, Minister Poots said:


“This £1million capital equipment grant fund I have launched today provides an opportunity for existing micro food and drink manufacturing businesses that are processing primary agricultural or horticultural produce to invest in new processing equipment, from a value of between £5,000 and £50,000, which will improve production efficiency, and importantly secure access to new markets and add value to local produce.


“It is essential that the projects funded under this scheme provide direct benefits to the Northern Ireland supply chain by improving commercial links between our food processors and the farmers and growers who produce the raw materials, particularly the local farmers and growers. I would encourage potential applicants to read the guidance notes online and if they feel they are eligible complete an expression of interest form or if necessary contact my Department with any eligibility queries before submitting the form.”


The Micro Food Business Investment Scheme Information booklet which details the priorities for the funding and the business and project eligibility criteria is on the DAERA website at:


www.daera-ni.gov.uk/topics/grants-and-funding-rural-development/rural-development-grants


Micro food and drink manufacturers that are ready to upscale to access new markets are asked consider the scheme eligibility criteria carefully before starting to complete the expression of interest form which is available through the above link until 15 April 2021.

The scheme launched today is targeted at existing Micro Food and Drink Manufacturing Enterprises – a micro enterprise is defined as an enterprise which employs less than 10 full time equivalent (FTE) employees with a total annual turnover of less than €2m (GDP £1.8m).


For the purpose of the scheme an existing micro enterprise is defined as a business able to provide 2 full sets of annual accounts (as submitted to HMRC).


Eligible businesses and projects under scheme may be located in a rural or urban area, but it is essential that the business is processing primary agricultural produce, particularly produce farmed or grown locally.


For the purpose of the scheme primary agricultural produce is defined as red meat, pig meat, poultry meat, eggs, milk, potatoes, fruit and vegetables, or cereals and seeds. Projects involving fisheries or aquaculture products are not eligible.


The minimum grant support available for the Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is £5,000 and the maximum grant will be £50,000. The grants will fund up to 50% of eligible costs (subject to the maximum £50,000).


Only new food processing equipment and machinery are eligible for support plus dedicated computer software if essential to the operation to the equipment being purchased.


The Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is one of a series of pilots being developed by the Department and the outcomes and lessons from these Schemes will contribute to the development of a future programme under the Rural Policy Framework.

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