FARMERS and food producers in Limerick are set to benefit from new programmes worth €111 million with the aim of finding new markets and to further promote consumption of their produce both outside and inside the EU.
In 2016, the new “Enjoy, it’s from Europe” promotion policy, which was adopted this week in Brussels by the European Commission, will help the sector’s professionals break into or consolidate international markets and make European consumers more aware of the efforts made by its local farmers.
Speaking to the Limerick Post during the EU Open Days events, Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said that “Europe’s agri-food produce is second to none in the global marketplace. The €110 billion EU export market creates jobs and growth in rural areas across Europe.
“To continue this export drive, this new promotion regime will see €111 million leverage further opportunities for EU agri-food produce in new markets, as well as grow our presence in existing markets.”
€30 million has been ring-fenced for the troubled milk and pig-meat sectors as part of the recently announced €500 million agri-markets package.
To achieve this goal, the Commission will make more resources available and will cut the red tape for the approval of projects.
Under the new rules, the EU co-financing rates will also go up from 50 per cent to 70-80 per cent.
The 2016 programme will target a selected list of countries where there is the highest potential for growth.
Commissioner Hogan said that he has facilitated the establishment of a new series of workshops which have been launched to examine the future of the EU sheep sector.
The forum will reflect on the future development of the sheep sector in the EU in the context of stagnant consumption and will be chaired by John Bryan, former President of the Irish Farmers’ Association,
The EU sheep flock currently stands at in the region of 85 million head and produces around 710,000 tonnes in carcass weight each year.