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Minister Sargent announces suspension of the schemes of Grant Aid for the development of the Organic Sector

Mr. Trevor Sargent TD, Minister for Food and Horticulture at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food today announced that the Schemes of Grant Aid for the Development of the Organic Sector would be suspended for new applications with effect from Friday, 10 July 2009.

Minister Sargent noted that the number of applications for the Schemes had increased substantially in the last two years, and that applications now on hand would fully use up the allocation in his Department's vote for 2009. "The increased level of demand for these schemes is evidence of an increased level of confidence in the sector", Minister Sargent said. "It also clearly demonstrates the belief that organics is now a viable commercial operation with a strong potential for growth".

The Schemes, funded under the National Development Plan 2007-2013, were introduced to help existing organic farmers and processors meet the growing demand for organic food, both in Ireland and abroad, but also to encourage potential new entrants to the sector by helping them with necessary investment.

Minister Sargent acknowledged that the uptake of the Schemes was a sign of their success, but said that the organic sector had now developed to a point where investment costs could be reflected in the price of produce instead of being externalised as heretofore. "My decision to suspend the Schemes for new applications is based therefore not only on the current budgetary situation but also on my belief that such organic enterprises are viable commercial operations with a target market that continues to grow. The suspension of the Schemes will be reconsidered at the earliest opportunity having regard to the evolving budgetary situation", said Minister Sargent.

Date Released: 09 July 2009