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Gildernew announces nest phase of regional food programme

20 February, 2009


Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has announced the third phase of the local Regional Food Programme (NIRFP) for 2009/10.

The NIRFP is run by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD,) in conjunction with Invest NI. The programme aims to promote quality regional food and to help increase its consumption by provision of financial support in five key areas namely: regional fairs/shows; information programmes; award ceremonies; seminars/ workshops and market intelligence/research. State Aid restrictions mean that only agri-food groups representative of producers and/or processors and which have local membership can apply. Registered local charities that plan to run food events will also be considered.

Launching the current phase, the Minister said:

“The food industry is vitally important to the future development of our local economy and investment in the industry will help to strengthen local food supply chains and help to ensure the prosperity and competitiveness of the industry.

“This is the third year of the programme, which since its inception, has provided financial support to a range of enterprising and successful projects. It has also fostered increased cooperation and communication between all sectors of the agri-food industry creating a united front to buyers and consumers.

“By highlighting the excellence of our local products, the Regional Food Programme, will help to create greater public awareness of the benefits of local regional food. I am grateful to Invest NI for their continued collaboration and support in delivering the programme.”

In previous years the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme (NIRFP) has supported a wide range of initiatives which have not only promoted local quality produce, but have also led to greater collaboration across the entire local agri-food sector. Activities have included development of the Taste of Ulster Guide, the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards, National Sausage Week and the Lough Neagh Food festival.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Applications for funding to deliver the programme can be obtained from:

Mr. Michael Moorhead Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Room 516A Dundonald House Upper Newtownards Road Belfast BT4 3SB Tel: 028 9052 5037 E-mail: [email protected]

The closing date for applications for the programme is 18 March 2009.

2. The Regional Food Programme was established as part of the implementation of The Fit for Market Report, which was published by the Food Strategy Group in November 2004.

3. Successful applications to the NIRFP can obtain up to 50% financial contributions on eligible expenditure.

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