€3.7 Million grants announced for the Horticulture Sector

I want to brief you about Minister McEntees  announcement today of a grant aid package of €3.7 million for the development of Horticulture.

The package will provide grants to 152 commercial horticultural producers to assist them in funding capital investments in specialist new equipment and facilities. The grant aid covers all areas of the horticultural industry – including field vegetables, mushrooms, protected crops, nursery crops, soft fruits/apples, cut foliage, Christmas trees, bulbs and bee-keeping. It will assist in funding investments of approximately €9.3 million between now and the end of the year.

The Minister is sanctioning these grants under the 2012 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector funded under the National Development Plan (2007-2013).

As you well know, it is vital for the Government to support capital investment that will set the foundations for economic recovery. The horticulture industry needs to invest in order to meet the competitive pressures it faces. These pressures arise in particular from high input costs, competitively priced imports, lack of scale and the dominance of the supermarket trade.

Last year, the horticulture industry contributed an estimated €288 million to the value of agricultural output. It provides – directly and indirectly – an estimated 5,000 jobs nationally, with many further jobs being generated in distribution, processing and marketing. This Government is committed to ensuring that the industry receives the support it requires to allow it maintain and further increase its contribution to the Irish economy.

I am pleased by the number of high quality projects that have sought assistance this year under the grants Scheme. This is further evidence of the potential that exists within the Irish agri-food industry. I am encouraged to see the level of confidence that currently exists within the horticulture sector as demonstrated by the uptake of these grants.