€1bn grant approved for Welsh rural development programme

Wales’ rural development programme (RDP) has been formally adopted by the EU Commission – unlocking €1.13bn (about £808m) for farmers and the rural economy.

The main focus of the Welsh RDP (2014-2020) will be on supporting better management of natural resources and encouraging climate-adaptation practices, with 56% of the grant pot (€595m, or about £425m) allocated to this.

Grants for improving biodiversity will be available to cover nearly 50% of agricultural land, while support for water management will also be available for nearly half of farmland. Support will also be targeted at better soil management.

The aim is to cover 700,000ha of farmland through environmental land management grants.

Scotland’s RDP was also approved on 26 May and England’s was approved in February.

Northern Ireland’s RDP is yet to be approved by the commission.

All of the UK’s RDP documents can be found on the EU Commision’s website.

Other priority areas for Wales’ RDP are:

Increase farm competitiveness and sustainable forest management (€136m/£97m)

  • Restructure and modernise more than 10% of agricultural holdings
  • Encourage young farmers to enter farming by supporting nearly 1% of holdings with business development plans and investments

Improve the food chain (€76.8m/£55m)

  • Support farmers to participate in quality schemes, local markets and short supply chains and producer organisations and groups
  • Support knowledge transfer, advice and investment in physical assets

Resources efficiency and shift to low-carbon and climate-resilient farming, food and forestry (€135m/£96m)

  • €20m (£14m) available for energy efficiency
  • €50m (£36m) available for investment in renewable energy production
  • Grants for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and/or ammonia emissions – to cover 14% of farmland
  • Grants for carbon sequestration or conservation for farming or forestry

Economic development and poverty reduction in rural areas (€138m/£99m)

  • Grants for diversifications, creation of small enterprises and jobs – emphasis on job creation
  • Improve IT services and broadband for half a million people

Knowledge transfer and innovation (funding spread throughout other priorities)

  • Available for agriculture, forestry and rural areas
  • Strengthen links – for example, with research institutions – encourage more than 1,000 co-operation projects mainly through farm partnerships
  • Train 13,000 farmers to increase knowledge and skills
  • Increase advisory services

Out of the total €1.13bn pot for Wales, €655.8m (£467.4m) will come from the EU budget and €292.4m (£208.4m) from national co-funding.  

The Welsh and Scottish RDPs were approved by the EU Commission along with a batch of 24 RDPs from other countries.

The 24 programmes are expected to create 40,000 jobs in rural areas and about 700,000 training places.

A total of 51 RDPs have now been approved but 118 are expected. 

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