21October2021

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O’Neill Highlights RDP Support for Agri-Food Industry and Rural Communities

Speaking during a visit to the LEADER Marquee at the Balmoral Show, the Minister revealed that from an overall budget of £500million, several thousand projects have been supported by the Programme creating new business and new employment opportunities in rural areas.

The Minister said: “The NI Rural Development Programme is revitalising our local economy with financial support, encouraging and inspiring new projects. Structured across three axes, it brings together a wide range of support schemes and programmes for the farming, forestry and primary processing sectors. Rural enterprise, business development as well as diversification, village renewal and rural tourism are all beneficiaries also.

“Axis 1, providing support, facilitating restructuring and fostering innovation across farm, forestry and food business, has reached out to farm businesses and rural communities through the Farm Focus Programme, the Farm Modernisation Programme and the Agricultural and Forestry processing and Marketing Grant Scheme.

“Over £10.6million has also been paid to some 3,000 farm businesses under the first two tranches of the Farm Modernisation Programme (FMP) and the Manure Efficiency Technology Scheme (METS) funded under Axis 1. Many of the 2,400 farmers who have received Letters of Offer totalling £7million under the third Tranche of the FMP will be examining the wide range of exhibits at Balmoral show to finalise their modernisation purchases.

“The Agricultural and Forestry processing and Marketing Grant Scheme has provided some £18million to 78 agri-food processing projects.

“Over the lifetime of the programme these popular measures will have boosted the economy by investment of some £90million.”

Continuing the Minister added: “Over £50 million each year is provided under Axis 2 funding to assist farmers with improving the environment and countryside. The Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowance (LFACA) is claimed annually by some 13,500 farm businesses and in 2012, around 12,000 farmers carried out environmental enhancement work on 440,000 hectares of land under agri-environment scheme agreement. In addition the Woodland Grant Scheme for existing management and new woodland creation will top £9million this year.”

The Minister revealed also that over £73million has also been committed to almost 1,500 projects under Axis 3, assisting over 290 farm businesses to diversify. Additionally investments have supported 241 micro-enterprises and created almost 308 new jobs providing further economic and quality of life stimulus in rural communities. “Strategic projects too have given the rural north a real boost, providing vital investment in our rural areas, with over £15.9million committed – a figure I would see rising considerably in 2013/14,” she added.

Upwards on 30 businesses from across the north featured in the LEADER exhibition during the three-day show.

Source: HortiTrends News Room