A SENIOR figure from the national Leader programme has predicted cuts in Government spending will leave some Leader companies without money to allocate next year.
Last year's 30pc cut in state funding for the scheme could see up to €100m removed from the five-year programme.
However, the cut will not fall equally across all 36 Leader companies, due to variations in the amount of funding already committed within each region.
Companies such as Avondhu Blackwater and Ballyhoura have spent more than 30pc of their budgets so far.
In addition, both have committed further funding to legally-binding contracts.
In contrast, some Leader companies based in Fingal, Kildare and Connemara have spent closer to 10pc of their budgets.
There is a belief within the industry that the volume of legally-binding commitments signed off by the Leader companies ahead on spending will result in funding for other Leader groups ending prematurely in 2013.
However, there was also some good news for Leader companies this week, with the confirmation that Department of Agriculture officials have begun negotiations with the EU over the format of the next Leader programme.
Wrangles over how the current programme was to be implemented resulted in a two-year delay to Leader projects which are part of the Rural Development Programme getting underway.
As a result, 30 Leader companies have spent less than 25pc of their total projected spend with less than two years of the programme left.
It also emerged this week that Leader companies can now begin funding farm-based food projects again, following an 18-month period when proposals to do so were not accepted.