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O’Neill announces major investment for local agri-food sector

14 December, 2011 - by Michelle O'Neill

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill today announced grant awards totalling over £3million to 18 companies from the local agri-food processing sector.

Each of the companies were successful under the Rural Development Programme’s Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme (PMG). Under the Scheme financial support, up to £0.5million, can be provided for capital investment in buildings and new plant and equipment.

The Minister made her announcement during a visit to Gilfresh Produce Ltd in Loughgall, County Armagh. They are one of the largest grower/packers of vegetable produce in the north. Gilfresh was awarded a grant of £0.5million towards an investment of £1.8million by the company to upgrade its existing processing and packing facilities.

The Minister said: “The funding provided under these grants will help to continue the growth and development of our agri-food sector and improve the economic performance of a sector that has shown good resilience during the recent economic downturn. I am determined to support further growth in the sector through schemes like this and by also developing a longer term strategic vision for the sector in partnership with other Departments and the industry.

“This significant funding of £3.1million will help 18 local companies invest in new buildings and plant and equipment which will help secure more opportunities for growth. Indeed, through match funding these grants will trigger a total investment in the local economy of almost £8million.”

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). DARD works in partnership with Invest NI in the delivery of the PMG Scheme.

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