UFU calls on Government to prioritise future Rural Development Programme funding

Thursday, 13 June, 2013

Following the release of the proposed budget for the next Rural Development Programme 2014 –2020 by the European Commission, the Ulster Farmers’ Union have called on Government to prioritise the key measures within the next Programme. The latest figures released suggest that over the next seven years the EU wide Programme will receive a total of €84.7 billion, to be split between the 28 member states.  This represents a significant decrease in available funding with the UK expected to receive in the region of €2.3 billion over this next financial period.

UFU president Harry Sinclair said; “While these are only draft figures, it is particularly worrying that the UK Government has been left with one of the weakest budgets in Europe which could potentially result in a 22% cut in the available funds for the next financial period 2014-2020.

While the current Rural Development Programme has had its difficulties over the last number of years it has still managed to deliver a number of effective measures to support farms and rural businesses whether it be through skills training, agri-environment schemes or a variety of other measures which were designed to help improve efficiencies and competitiveness.  

“One option that will exist is the transfer of funds from Pillar 1 (Direct Payments) into Pillar 2 (Rural Development).  While the Union has opposed to this, if this option to transfer funds is to be ultimately agreed at a European level, we are insisting that it must be co-financed by Government.  This will ensure that only the projects that member states themselves prioritise enough to co-finance will be implemented and that European funds along with the national contributions are managed properly.

Harry concluded; “The reality of the situation is that we are going to have to work with a significantly reduced budget and there is an obligation to make sure that the next Programme fully supports the key priorities which are going to deliver the greatest benefits to the rural economy and the wider environment.”