The €3m investment aid for the seed potato sector scheme announced last week is now open for applications, with eligible capital investments on seed potato operations set for grant funding at a rate of up to 40%.

For qualified young farmers, grant aid will be lifted to the higher rate of up to 60% of the cost of the on-farm capital investment.

The scheme will remain open for applications until Friday 1 July 2022.

Speaking at the announcement of the scheme opening, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue reiterated comments made last week at the World Potato Congress on the potential for growth in the domestic seed potato sector.

“There is great potential in reviving the domestic seed potato sector. I am committed to seeing it thrive once more once there is leadership from within the sector too.

"I believe we can restore the industry to its heyday nationally,” said Minister McConalogue at the announcement.

“I welcome the announcement of this scheme as a hugely positive step in contributing to shorter supply chains and sector sustainability in a domestic industry that is synonymous with our country,” commented Minister of State with special responsibility for horticulture Pippa Hackett.

Mushroom promotion

The mobilisation of further Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) funds was also announced by the ministers, with €210,000 allocated to the promotion of Irish mushrooms in the UK.

Co-ordinated by Bord Bia, the mushroom campaign will involve television advertising, social media and outdoor activities aimed at boosting sales in the summer/autumn period, when mushroom sales typically slow.

“I’m delighted to have secured funding to support this vital promotional campaign to sustain Ireland’s mushroom footprint in the marketplace throughout these critical months,” stated Minister McConalogue.

“The mushroom sector is a really important one for our overall agri-food sector and it is crucial that we support it in any way we can,” he said.

Brexit challenges

Minister Hackett recognised the mushroom sector as one particularly exposed to the challenges of Brexit, as the UK market represents 85% of the sector's sales.

“These are challenging times for the wider horticulture industry and the mushroom sector in particular has been severely impacted by Brexit given its reliance on the UK export market,” she added.

“This promotional campaign will help to ensure consumer appetite and demand remain strong in the UK for Irish mushrooms, which are a versatile source of sustainable nutrition,” Minister Hackett said.

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