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Food Sector offers many opportunites for local economies says Minister Smith at South Roscommon Launch

Speaking at the launch of the South Roscommon Locally Produced Food Programme in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone today Mr. Brendan Smith T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for Food and Horticulture, welcomed the initiative, which will involve farm families, rural dwellers and rural food enterprises. "The food sector offers opportunities for local and regional food economies. Now is an opportune time to encourage the growth of rural-based food enterprises and regional identity. The cross-border element of the programme -Newry and Mourne LEADER are partnering South Roscommon LEADER - will be very much to the benefit of all concerned."

Minister Smith encouraged producers to be open to new market possibilities including specialist production and farmers markets' as well as the potential of development schemes for communities such as the Community Enterprise Centre Scheme announced by Enterprise Ireland.

Minister Smith added that planning had commenced for the holding of a North East Regional Food Forum in June. This will assist the development agencies, small food producers and companies, good opportunities in showcasing regional products, building business linkages and optimising networking and advice opportunities.

Concluding Minister Smith wished the producers well in their endeavours.

27 February, 2006

Date Released: 27 February 2006