By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
Home A-Z Index Subscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Minister Coughlan welcomes State Aid approval for €300 million investment package for the Irish Dairy Processing Sector

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today welcomed the European Commission's State-Aid approval of a €300 million investment package for the Irish dairy processing sector.

The European Commission stated that the proposed package, which will provide financial assistance in support of capital investment into the marketing and processing of dairy products falling within the scope of Annex 1 of the EU Treaty, is compatible with the Community guidelines for State aid in the agriculture sector.

The Commission reminded the Irish authorities that the Community Guidelines for State Aid in the agriculture sector are currently being reviewed and once the revised Guidelines enter into force, appropriate measures must be taken to bring existing aid schemes into line with the new provisions. Minister Coughlan is satisfied that her Department, Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Dairy Processing Industry are in a position to fully avail of the €300 million Dairy Investment Fund prior to the application of the new State Aid rules.

Minister Coughlan reiterated her view that "this investment package is capable of taking the Irish dairy sector forward in a cohesive and strategic manner and will lead to the sustained development of the sector into the future as envisaged under the AgriVision 2015 Action Plan."

The Minister said that she recognised the significant contribution of the dairy sector to the Irish agriculture economy. It accounts for some 30% of agricultural output and exports of dairy products and ingredients accounted for €2 billion of total agri-food exports last year. The sector has seen enormous change in recent years, particularly as a result of the mid term reform of CAP. This investment fund is designed to assist companies as they confront the key challenges facing the Irish dairy sector and seek to maintain or strengthen their position in increasingly competitive markets.

Since her initial announcement of the investment fund, the Minister has been very pleased with the positive response from the sector. She remains confident that Irish dairy processors will use the opportunity that she has provided to make the necessary investment in their companies to ensure the long-term competitiveness and viability of the Irish dairy industry. The investment fund will cover the costs of construction and acquisition of buildings, new machinery and equipment, and other costs to improve efficiencies and facilitate strategic change.

Enterprise Ireland has played a key role in developing this Capital Investment Scheme for the dairy sector and will continue to remain fully involved and, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Food, will manage all aspects of the Scheme from the application process through to the assessment of projects and the awarding of grant aid. The Call for Proposals for grant assistance is now at an advanced stage and Minister Coughlan will announce further details of the Scheme in the coming weeks.

30 August 2006

Date Released: 30 August 2006