€3.92bn Rural Development Programme gets EU go-ahead

Formal adoption this week by the European Commission of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 cleared the way for €3.92 billion of public money, mostly targeted to support agriculture and forestry on more than one million hectares.

It is designed to put about 60% of Ireland’s agricultural land under contract, for restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry, aiming for increased biodiversity, better water management and preventing soil erosion.

In addition, almost 10% of Irish agricultural holdings will be restructured and modernised.

Another 3% of holdings will benefit from support specifically targeted at young farmers.

About 111,600 training places will be created for farmers to increase their knowledge and skills.

And LEADER support from the programme is expected to create over 3,000 jobs in rural areas.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the adoption marks the next step in rolling out the reformed Common Agricultural Policy.

He has already announced implementation of some key schemes in the Programme, on foot of a letter of comfort from the EU Commission received in April, and the roll out of schemes and supports will now continue.

Ireland’s RDP was one of 24 Rural Development Programmes adopted by the EU this week.

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said they are expected to create over 40,000 rural jobs and about 700,000 training places.

They bring to 51 the number of programmes approved so far in 2015, worth more than €62bn in rural spending.


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