A total of 22 projects in the meat and dairy sectors across the country will receive funding worth €70m to enable them to develop and diversify, following Britain's exit from the European Union.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue made the announcement today.

The €70m Capital Investment Scheme for the processing and marketing of agricultural products will help farmers and those working in food production to diversify their offering, to attract new markets and customers, making their business more resilient and sustainable into the long-term.

The fund will be administered by Enterprise Ireland.

The 22 projects include work planned by Slaney Meats, Dawn Meats, Dairygold Co-operative, Glanbia, Kepak, Tipperary Co-operative Creamery, McCarren Meats, Glenisk, Henry Denny & Sons, Donegal Meat Processors, Silver Hills Foods, Bandon Vale Cheese and Moyvalley Meats.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said the Government is committed to supporting the country's agri-food sector and ensuring that Ireland's reputation for high-quality, safe, and sustainable food production is maintained and enhanced.

"New product development and market diversification go hand-in-hand," the Minister said.

"The €70m investment we are announcing today will assist the sector, expand current markets and increase sales of higher value-add products in the global marketplace maintaining our position as the sustainable food capital of the world," he added.

Minister Charlie McConalogue

He said that as global markets recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, he will work closely with Minister of State Martin Heydon, who has specific responsibility for new market development, to ensure that Irish food exporters can take advantage of the opportunities in key international markets.

"The key to these strategic investments is bringing benefits for all those along the supply chain, particularly farmers as the critical primary producer who are the bedrock of €14bn export sector," Mr McConalogue said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the agri-food industry is the lifeblood of Rural Ireland, adding that today's funding is all about helping the industry to develop and diversify by moving up the value chain and gaining access to new markets including Asia and North America.

He said the new funding will benefit farmers and the wider industry.

"This €70m funding will go directly to food producers and processors in the meat and dairy sectors to help them diversify and win new customers post-Brexit. It will also help them prepare for a low carbon future, given our commitments on climate. The 22 successful projects are all over the country," Mr Varadkar said.

He said that Brexit caused huge uncertainty for the sector and is a warning of the dangers of becoming over-reliant on a certain market.

"Similarly the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining production levels is another challenge facing our food producers. We need to take action now that embraces new technology, creates new jobs and new business opportunities, protects rural communities and tries to avoid driving up the cost of living," he said.

"This fund aims to help food producers make the transition," he added.