DEFRA gives £5m boost to dairy and broadband

The dairy industry and broadband infrastructure are to benefit from £5.2m of European funding, DEFRA has announced.

The money, which aims to help improve the sector’s competitiveness, will be delivered through regional development agencies under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

Junior DEFRA minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: “England’s dairy sector has responded with strength and resilience to big challenges over the past decade and, despite current difficulties, the sector is well positioned for the future.

“Weak global markets hit by the economic downturn and the recent collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain mean that confidence in the industry has been hit, and we want to address that.

“The funding is subject to EU approval. A formal application would be submitted to Brussels along with other changes implementing the CAP Health Check in the next few days,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.

A further £2.6m will be made available to improve broadband coverage in rural areas.

“Broadband can transform jobs, communities and lives in rural areas, helping rural entrepreneurship to grow, supporting businesses and bringing investment to rural England,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“We need to overcome the barriers some rural communities face in accessing broadband to deliver the true promise of Digital Britain throughout the country and to ensure our rural economy is able to thrive in the years ahead,” he added.

“We are working closely with the Regional Development Agencies to ensure that these new funds, and the existing priorities for RDPE, are delivered as effectively as possible to help farmers and rural communities respond to the challenges they face.”