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O’Neill highlights RDP support for agri-food industry and rural communities

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has said the Rural Development Programme continues to deliver tremendous support to the agri-food industry and rural communities.
Thursday, 16 May 2013

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.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Rural Development Programme (RDP) is aimed at improving the economic, social and environmental conditions in rural areas throughout the north. It brings together a wide range of support schemes and programmes for the farming, forestry and primary processing sectors, rural enterprise and business development, diversification and rural tourism. It includes measures to support and encourage rural communities and delivers initiatives for local innovation in rural areas.
  2. Business projects exhibiting under the RDP banner at Balmoral Show are:

    Farm Diversification
    Clementsmount Fun Farm  
    Foyle Hovercrafting & Leisure
    East Coast Adventure Ltd
    Embroidery NI
    GH Engineering
    Glendale Tree Services
    Homecraft Revival
    Kearney Vintage Tractors
    M&K Units, Hillsborough
    Oddball Engineering Solutions
    Sullivans Engineering
    Tullyveery House Weddings
    Westwinds Wind Turbines
    Willowtree Cottage Timber Products

    Rural Business
    Ardclinis Outdoor Adventure
    Clerk Coatings
    Elite Granite
    Fourds Blinds
    H2 Engineering
    Linton Solutions
    Saint Maren
    Signstik Ltd, Crumlin

    Rural Tourism
    Friends of Lissan House
    Hillmount BBQ Academy

    Display only exhibits:
    Antrim Hills Spring Water
    Autism NI
    Belle Isle Estate
    Deepa Mann-Kier Fine Arts
    Graceys Barn
    Tots Pots
    Lorraine McGonigle Bridal
    Railway Preservation Society of Ireland
    Victoria Glenn Textiles
    Whitewater Brewery
  3. The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (NIRDP) is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and over this period is worth £500million to the north.
  4. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.