Regional Food Programme 2016/17 opens for applications

Martin Grantley Smith (HGCA), Michele Shirlow (Food NI), Minister O'Neill, Cliff Kells (Tesco), John Best (Food NI) and Ivor Ferguson (UFU) at the Food NI Farmhouse Breakfast event 2015 supported by DARD's Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme in partnership with Home Grown Cereals Authority, Ulster Farmers' Union, and local producers/processors of breakfast products.
Martin Grantley Smith (HGCA), Michele Shirlow (Food NI), Minister O'Neill, Cliff Kells (Tesco), John Best (Food NI) and Ivor Ferguson (UFU) at the Food NI Farmhouse Breakfast event 2015 supported by DARD's Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme in partnership with Home Grown Cereals Authority, Ulster Farmers' Union, and local producers/processors of breakfast products.

A funding programme to help raise the profile of quality regional food has been officially opened by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill.

Funded by DARD, the Regional Food Programme (NIRFP) has already supported many local events and initiatives.

Minister O’Neill said: “This is an important and welcome funding programme within our food and drink sector and has assisted the formation and development of many well known food promotion initiatives including the Food Pavilion at Balmoral Show, Belfast Restaurant Week, Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, the Farmhouse Breakfast Event and the LegenDerry Food Festival.

“Last year we helped fund the new Stakeholder Potato Promotions Group, Festival Lough Erne, Moira Speciality Food Fair and the Food Heartland Forum. We have also used the fund to encourage collaboration between all sectors and representative bodies with the local food industry.”

Applications have now opened for projects taking place from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. Applications are also welcomed for projects contributing to the Year of Food and Drink 2016.

The aim of the Programme is to promote quality regional food and to help increase its consumption by provision of financial support in four key areas - regional fairs/exhibitions, information programmes, award ceremonies, and seminars/workshops.

Scheme rules mean that only not-for-profit agri-food groups representative of producers and/or processors who have local membership, registered charities or not-for-profit regional development agencies can apply. Applications for collaborative ventures involving two or more eligible organisations working together to deliver the objectives of the Programme are encouraged.

Closing date for completed applications will be 12 noon on Wednesday 2 December 2015. An application form for funding can be downloaded from http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/food/northern-ireland-regional-food-programme.htm or obtained from the contact details below: NIRFP Management Team, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Room 518, Dundonald House , Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SB, Tel: 028 9052 4497, Email: supplychaindevelopment@dardni.gov.uk