RDC Comments on Zero Rate Transfer to Rural Development Schemes

09 January 2014

RDC Comments on Zero Rate Transfer to Rural Development Schemes

RDC Comments on Zero Rate Transfer to Rural Development Schemes

RDC Chair, Tony McCusker has expressed concern at the news that there will be no transfer of funding from Pillar One to Pillar Two under the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for Northern Ireland.

Expressing his concern Mr McCusker said, “Whilst the original anticipated 7% rate of transfer from pillar 1 to pillar 2 was already lower than figures for the UK: Wales will apply a rate of 15%, England 12% and Scotland 9.5%, it nonetheless would have contributed in the region of €135 million to farm diversification, agri-environment and rural development schemes”.

He added “Funding for rural development and in particular those schemes that tackle the wider rural needs of employment, business, services and regeneration in general, tend to be positioned against farming needs. In reality to achieve a prosperous, workable, livable and sustainable countryside we must consider the rural economy as a whole to include farmers and non farmers and ensure adequate EU resources are directed to both. This non transfer of funds to pillar two will have widespread and significant impact on these wider rural issues and needs at a time when many rural areas are experiencing job losses, business closures, centralisation of services and the continued challenges of lack of public transport and quality broadband”.

Teresa Canavan, RDC Chief Executive acknowledged the commitment made by Minister O’Neill towards addressing the deficit and recognises the role of the Executive and their commitment to the Rural White Paper Action Plan however added: “We all know the reasons for rural proofing and ensuring adequate resources are directed towards rural circumstance however there is little evidence this is working without legislation and whilst we will continue to support the call for adequate rural proofing and for all government departments to take their rural responsibility we also hold strong in our belief that the Rural Development Programme as the single rural fund, must recognise, as Europe intend, the wider rural economy and that means working to ensure that the 600,000 plus people who live in rural areas receive maximum benefit and opportunity from the EU funds available”.