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Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme 2011 / 2012 open for Funding applications

The Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme (NIRFP), funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, has opened for applications for 2011/12.

This programme was established as part of the implementation of The Fit for Market Report, which was published by the Food Strategy Group in November 2004.

The programme provides financial support for initiatives which promote quality regional food and collaboration between members of the local agri-food supply chain.

The food industry plays a central role in contributing to the wider Northern Ireland economy. It accounts for nearly 20% of manufacturing output and employs 50,000 people directly. The NIRFP helps to deliver the quality food message to thousands of people each year, here and further afield.
Since its inception in 2007 the programme has assisted the formation and development of many well known food promotion initiatives; the Food Pavilion at Balmoral Show, Magherafelt’s Speciality Christmas Food Market, Taste of Ulster and the award winning Great Belfast Food Initiative which includes the Belfast Bred Walking tours. Applications will be accepted within four key areas; regional fairs/shows; information programmes; award ceremonies; and seminars/ workshops.

The aim of the programme is to promote quality regional food and increase its consumption within Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.  The programme encourages all sectors of the agri-food industry to work together and provides financial assistance for eligible additional activities. It is not designed to substitute existing activities already funded by applicants.

Awards will be made on a competitive basis and only those applications that are judged to have best met the programme objectives will receive funding. New projects/events/programmes will be supported at a more favourable rate than established projects/events/programmes that have received support in the past

The objectives of the programme are:
*to assist the NI agri-food industry to develop and expand profitable and sustainable markets;
*to develop a thriving rural economy by raising profile of NI quality food; and
*to increase co-operation and communication between all sectors and representative bodies/groups of the NI food industry, therefore providing a united front to buyers and consumers
*Not for profit Agri–food groups representative of producers and/or processors who have an NI membership/remit; or       
*Registered Charities who plan to run events which include regional/local food and have an NI membership/remit.                                                                      
*Not for profit regional development agencies
* Joint applications from agri-food groups and/or charities or regional development agencies

Individuals or companies cannot apply unless they fall into one of the above categories. For the purpose of this programme, the definition of regional food and drink is that it must be grown, processed and/or packaged in NI. It should meet at least one of the following requirements:
· Adhere to quality assurance schemes which are above minimum legal requirements.
· Exceed minimum national and EU legal requirements in relation to hygiene, traceability, animal welfare.
· Promote the EU Protected Food Name Scheme.
· Organic products

Successful applications to the NIRFP can obtain up to 40% financial contributions on eligible expenditure

Applications are particularly welcome for collaborative ventures involving two or more of these organisations working together to deliver the objectives of the programme.

Closing date for completed applications will be 12 noon on Wednesday 20 April.

An application form for funding can be downloaded here from the DARD website or obtained from:

Ms Una Hollywood
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Room 516A
Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road
Belfast BT4 3SB
Tel: 028 9052 4497

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