DUP MEP Diane Dodds has called for a Government capital grant scheme to be introduced in Northern Ireland to allow for investment in the local food processing sector.
The DUP Member of the European Parliament believes that it is vital that there are no further delays in setting up a capital grant scheme for the food processing sector.
Mrs Dodds commented: “Over the last week I have held a series of meetings with various food processing companies based in Northern Ireland and discussed with them a wide range of issues including the on-going Brexit discussions, getting sufficient labour for the sector and needs for capital investment in the sector. One issue that was raised during these discussions was the lack of local Government support for the food processing sector in Northern Ireland.
“It is vital that the Department of the Economy and the Department of Agriculture (DAERA) bring forward a scheme that will allow for Government assistance for the food processing sector. Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK that does not have a capital grant scheme in place to support the sector. Many of the food companies who have a factory in Northern Ireland tell me that they are investing in other parts of the UK due to support coming from Government in these regions but are not investing in Northern Ireland as a result of the lack of support
“With the UK leaving the EU and current challenges to get necessary labour for the local processing sector, companies are wanting to invest in the sector and become more efficient. Despite the EU already approving a capital grant scheme for the processing sector under the last Rural Development Programme, DAERA have failed to open the scheme for the sector. It is important that a scheme is opened without any further delay. I believe that Invest NI is best placed to deliver a programme that will deliver a grant scheme that will help the local sector become more efficient and productive for the future,” Mrs Dodds added.
“This week I have raised this issue with the Secretary of State Karen Bradley and various Permanent Secretaries of the Agriculture and Economy departments. I hope to have further discussion with officials on this issue over the coming months.”