Farmers can apply to €24m ‘locally-led’ project fund

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has announced the launch of an Open Call under the European Innovation Partnerships Initiative (EIP) and is inviting applications for funding.

Projects developed under this Open Call will form part of the Department’s new ‘Locally-Led’ initiative, a measure proposed by Ireland under the Rural Development Programme 2014–2020.

“This is a completely new way of responding to local challenges and we look forward to working with, and supporting, groups who are dealing with practical problems in their localities in a new and innovative way,” he said.

This is also an opportunity for farmers, researchers, advisors and scientists to look at new and traditional practices, develop ideas and research, and promote forms of co-operation in their own areas.

Support for these Open Call applications is structured around a competitive fund, the Department of Agriculture has said.

In effect there are two streams within this call which will be administered via the same process throughout, the Department has said.

The first stream will focus on themes such as farm viability, economic performance, sustainable forest management, and innovative technologies.

The second stream will be focused on challenges related to environmental, biodiversity and climate change issues.

Proposals for projects targeting the restoration of upland peats are specifically invited, but it is hoped that a very wide range of ideas and proposals will emerge in response to this Call, with innovation the common denominator across them all.

This will be a competitive process with Round 1 being an initial call for ideas using a simple application form.

All proposals will be evaluated by a committee for relevance to the EIP programme and compatibility with Rural Development Priorities.

A shortlist of applicants will be chosen to go forward to Round 2 and these will be funded to prepare detailed project plans.

These plans will then be assessed and a final shortlist drawn up for implementation on the ground, with up to 100% funding provided under the new initiative.

Minister Creed announced that this would be the first of two separate calls, with the next one likely to issue in the middle of 2017.

An overall funding package of €24m has been set aside to support EIPs under these two calls.