The announcement of EU state aid approval for an investment programme in primary processing of agricultural products in Ireland has been welcomed by Meat Industry Ireland (MII). The programme involves a €200 million investment for the processing and marketing of agricultural products in Ireland. Approved by the European Commission, the scheme will run until the end of 2025. The MII statement outlined: “MII has been pushing for changes to state aid rules at EU level to allow for a meaningful investment initiative in meat processing as part of overall efforts to mitigate the impact of Brexit on the highly-exposed meat sector. The objective is to enable meat processors to engage in significant investment projects that will tackle competitiveness, assist the market diversification challenge and drive innovation in both products and processes. Commenting on the funding approval, MII’s senior director, Cormac Healy, said: “Maintaining our meat processing facilities to world class standards in order to deliver the best customers for Irish meat requires significant ongoing capital investment by processing companies. “However, the challenges for the meat sector associated with Brexit now necessitate even more extensive investment in projects to drive competitiveness throughout processing and to innovate processes and our meat offering to existing and new markets. As well as looking to develop new markets and customers for Irish meat exports, MII members will be making every effort to retain market share for Irish meat in the UK market, an increasingly difficult task in the years ahead. “MII looks forward to working with Government departments and Enterprise Ireland to establish the full detail of a new investment programme and to have this funded immediately so that important and time-consuming investment projects can commence throughout the country.” Concluding, Healy said: “It is essential that no further time is lost in taking these steps.” The funding approval has also been welcomed by other Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation (Ibec) bodies such as Food Drink Ireland (FDI). SOURCE – AGRILAND – Breifne O’Brien Feb 4, 2020, 6:03pmTitle