Dáil Éireann - Volume 612 - 08 December, 2005
Written Answers. - Alternative Farm Enterprises.
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
99. Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps she is taking to promote farmers markets; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37689/05]
Mary Coughlan Mary Coughlan
Mary Coughlan: With over 100 farmers markets now in existence, I believe there is great potential for future growth in this area. I am aware of the role and increasing importance that farmers markets perform in supplementing farm incomes and providing an alternative route to the market for small food producers. They offer direct access to consumers and assist the development and expansion of local and regional speciality foods. They also improve community spirit, create employment and make local areas more attractive for tourism.
I am fully committed to supporting efforts to promote, strengthen and organise the farmers markets system on a sustainable basis. On behalf  of the Irish Country Markets Association, I recently launched the “origin farmers markets” initiative in Manorhamilton, County Leitrim. This is a new cross-Border initiative to encourage and develop more farmers market outlets North and South in five Leader areas in counties Donegal, Tyrone, Sligo, Leitrim, Antrim and Roscommon.
Bord Bia, as part of its statutory role in promoting the development of Ireland’s food and drink industry, is working with other State and local agencies to develop this route to the market. In co-operation with Invest Northern Ireland, it has published a comprehensive information guide on the operation of these markets. It also provides a range of support services for farmers markets including advice and mentoring assistance and has a dedicated person in the small business department to assist both producers and individuals.
Bord Bia continues to work closely with the Office of Public Works on developing the successful ‘food at Farmleigh’ programme. In 2006, the Farmleigh model is being rolled out to other OPW heritage properties around the country including Donegal, Laois, Wexford and Cork.
In association with Dublin City Council, Bord Bia is also actively involved in the Smithfield regeneration programme and recently facilitated a meeting with interested parties on the proposed development of the fruit, vegetable and fish markets. Attendees were invited to make submissions on the proposed regeneration to the Dublin city planner and a consultative forum, including Bord Bia was established. This initiative will provide access for small food producers to the lucrative Dublin market.
Dáil Éireann 612 Written Answers. Alternative Farm Enterprises.