€5 million investment scheme opened for the horticulture sector

It has been confirmed that the 2018 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector is now open for applications.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, announced the news earlier today.

Launching the scheme, Minister Doyle said: “An increased annual budget of €5 million for the scheme has been retained reflecting this government’s ongoing commitment to the sector.

“The competitive nature of the scheme combined with the scheme’s flexibility and ability to react to evolving situations are two key strengths in supporting this highly dynamic sector.”

The scheme is open to all horticultural sectors including: field vegetables; mushrooms; protected food crops; amenity crops; soft fruit; apples; and beekeeping.

Grant aid will be provided at a rate of 40% for approved capital investments undertaken by September 28, 2018. The closing date for receipt of applications is December 19, 2017.

The department explained that Ireland’s horticulture sector contributed over €430 million to the value of output at farm-gate level in 2016.

The sector is also estimated to be directly responsible for over 6,600 jobs, with many more employed indirectly both upstream and downstream, the department added.

Concluding Minister Doyle said: “The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) loan scheme launched in last year’s budget was a great success and a number of horticultural businesses have benefited from these low-interest loans.

“As part of the recent budget, €25 million has been secured to facilitate the development of a new Brexit response loan scheme for farmers, fishermen and food businesses in 2018 and further details will be announced in due course.”

The “timely launch” of the 2018 Horticulture Investment Scheme is in recognition of this most recent challenge to the sector, Minister Doyle said.