Food jobs lost in funding dispute
Hundreds of jobs are continuing to be lost in the speciality food sector because of an ongoing dispute over how such projects are funded.
Declan Rice, CEO of Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP), said a ban on funding food projects had prevented Ireland's 36 LEADER companies from funding small-food enterprises to the tune of millions of euro, leaving many food producers in limbo.
"Kilkenny LEADER Partnership alone has had to turn away at least 17 micro-enterprises in the food sector this year," Mr Rice said.
"Between them they were seeking a total of €800,000 in investment. Very few of these companies have any other realistic prospect of funding support other than LEADER and we estimate 35 jobs have been lost," he said.
Mr Rice claimed that the number of jobs lost nationally could run into hundreds.
The suspension of funding was imposed after it emerged in January that Ireland and other EU countries were unwittingly breaking EU rules by funding food projects out of the wrong axis of CAP.
The Commission found that small-food enterprises should not be supported under Axis 2 of CAP, as was traditionally the case, and had to be funded through Axis 1 instead.