Final call for applications to the LEADER Food Initiative

Small food businesses are today (Tuesday, May 25th) being encouraged to apply for funding under the LEADER Food Initiative – a €5 million investment aimed at assisting businesses to deal with the challenges posed by Brexit and COVID-19. The final call for applications was made by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett.

The funding will help artisan, micro and small food businesses to respond to challenges posed by Brexit and COVID-19, while also supporting diversification in agriculture. In December 2020, Ministers Humphreys, McConalogue and Hackett announced the extension of the LEADER Food Initiative into 2021.

As part of that announcement, the maximum rate of aid available to projects involving economic activity was increased from 50% to 75% for project applications received on or after 1st April 2021.

Announcing the final call for applications, all three Ministers urged small food businesses to submit their applications.

Minister Heather Humphreys, TD

Minister Humphreys explained that the recently launched Transitional LEADER Programme for 2021 and 2022, underpinned by €70 million in funding. "Today, I am delighted to announce the final call for applications under LEADER Food Initiative. ’Our Rural Future’, the Government’s ambitious new policy for the development of Rural Ireland, outlined the importance of the Agri-food sector for our country."

This initiative is a key part of the Government’s plans for the agriculture community - support artisan, micro and small food businesses, new or existing to develop their businesses. 116 projects have been approved by the various Local Action Groups (LAGSs) to date. Minister Humphreys states that "Since the launch of this programme in 2018, my Department and I have seen the really positive impact the LEADER Food Initiative funding can have on supporting local enterprises to expand and develop. Supporting local enterprises and employment is a key focus of ‘Our Rural Future’. I would encourage local enterprises, who may qualify for this funding, to contact their Local Development Company to avail of this funding and support as we move into a post pandemic economy. Along with Minister McConalogue and Minister Hackett, I will continue to drive forward with implementing the commitments in ‘Our Rural Future’ as we strive to support our Agri-Food sector.”

Minister Charlie McConalogue, TD

Commenting on the development, Minister McConalogue said “I am happy to announce that the final tranche of the €15m funding allocated by my Department for the LEADER Food Initiative is now being made available for this final call for applications for artisan, micro and small food enterprises engaged in the agri-food sector. Following on from my announcement last year on extending the measure into 2021, I am pleased that applicants with eligible projects under this call can be eligible for consideration for the increased maximum funding limit now increased from 50% to 75%. The €5m funding now made available will help support farmers and food enterprises to develop premium, sustainable outlets for their products on the Irish market.I hope that the increased maximum rates of aid will encourage these food businesses, who have shown great resilience during the past year, to apply for this funding support."

Minister Pippa Hackett, TD.

Minister Hackett also commented on the Initiative "It is so important to help connect small food producers to the consumer.  That’s why I am pleased that this funding is made available under the LEADER Food Initiative. The support will help local food enterprises to access advisory, investment and marketing support for those who wish to diversify into new products and to build efficient, sustainable routes to market that help connect small food producers to the consumer."

The initiative is managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development, with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.The maximum amount of funding available is €200,000 per project and funding will be provided for both capital investment and softer supports related to analysis and development or training. This includes support for collaborative proposals where food businesses jointly address common processing and marketing challenges.

 Examples of national projects previously funded under the LEADER Food Initiative:

Promoter Name

Promoter Address

Description of Project

LEADER Grant Amount

Blanco Nino Limited

Clonmel, Co.Tipperary

Installation of a production and baking line.


John Finlay

Ballacolla, Co Laois

Feasibility study on developing a grass protein for human consumption.


Lavins Fruit & Vegatable Limited

Drimdough, Breaghwy, Co Mayo

Production line equipment, to assist in the future growth of the business


Staranize Ventures Limited

Ballyliffin, Co Donegal

Extension and upgrade of production facility.


Limerick Food Group CLG

Mungret Street, Limerick City, Co Limerick

Marketing support, to develop the Limerick Food Trail to promote locally produced food and beverages


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