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O’Neill announces financial boost for local food projects

20 June, 2011 - by Michelle O'Neill

A £150,000 support package for projects promoting the quality of local food was announced today by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill.

The Minister made the announcement as she met with one of the beneficiaries of the funding support, Food NI.

The Minister said: “Our local agri-food sector has the potential to be a key driver for economic recovery. This is why investment in initiatives that promote this sector to help bring the ‘quality local food’ message to the consumer, is money well spent.

“This funding has been allocated under my Department’s administered Regional Food Programme which is now in its fifth year of operation. The programme will be funding 15 projects through 2011 to end of March 2012 and aims to promote our quality regional food and at increasing its consumption here and elsewhere.”

The Regional Food Programme has provided assistance to some high profile food projects over the last few years including the Great Belfast Food Programme and Belfast Bred Food Tours, the Taste of Ulster guidebook and the Regional Food & Drink Awards. The work of the Regional Food Programme can be seen at festivals and county shows throughout this summer and at the Christmas food markets planned for the end of the year.

The Minister added: “As with Food NI, my Regional Food Programme team work behind the scenes with industry representative groups to promote the superior quality that is provided in our local foods. This is further evidence of my Department’s commitment to supporting the agri-food sector here in the north.”

Speaking on behalf of FoodNI Michele Shirlow said: “FoodNI acknowledges and appreciates the vital work done by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to support the promotion of positive messages about the agri food sector and we look forward to working with the new Minister to build a strong springboard for growth and export.”

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