Next Rural Development Programme must deliver for farm businesses

Thursday, 8 August, 2013

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said that the next Rural Development Programme (2014-2020) must deliver on key priorities supporting innovation and competitiveness if the agri food industry is to realise its full potential. The comments were made following a meeting with DARD officials this week to get clarification on the proposals for the next Rural Development Programme (2014-2020), which are currently out for public consultation.

Ulster Farmers’ Union Rural Development Chairman Ian Buchanan said; "We have met with DARD this week to get clarity on a number of issues in the Rural Development Programme consultation document. We want to make sure that the new Programme will provide sufficient levels of support to enable the long term sustainability of our sector and to make sure farmers both young and old are given the opportunity to access new skills and services that will help boost on farm profitability.

"The agri-food industry makes a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy and we hope to see further progress in the future. The Rural Development Programme certainly provides an avenue to help sustain this growth and create more employment for the rural community through strong investment in these priorities.  Further to this, we must continue to encourage greater levels of resource efficiency and provide the tools to assist farmers with the key role they play in protecting our countryside and rural heritage. 

"Thus far, the UFU has played a significant role in the ongoing Rural Development Programme Stakeholder Group and we will continue to submit proposals which will protect and enhance the agri-sector as well as the wider rural economy. There are a number of lessons that can be learnt from some of the delivery mechanisms in the current Programme and it is important that these are corrected before the next Programme begins.  Many of the suggestions we have made already are in this final consultation document and we will now be conducting a further internal consultation prior to a formal response being submitted to DARD in October.” 

The consultation period for the new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 ends 21st October 2013.