Rural Development Programme for England 2014-2020

The Rural Development Programme (RDP) for England was formally adopted by the European Commission on 13 February, 2015. It outlines England's priorities for using the €4 056 million of public money that is available from 2014-2020 (€3 471 million from the EU budget, including €1 694 million transferred from the UK envelope for CAP direct payments, plus €495 million of national co-funding, plus €90 million of national funding top-ups).

The main objective is better management of natural resources and the wider adoption of farming practices which are climate friendly. The aim is to protect 2.5 million hectares of farmland through environmental land management targeted to specific biodiversity and water objectives. 14,000 hectares of woodland will be planted.

The productivity of farming and forestry will be boosted which will result in economic growth and more jobs. Support will target tourism, broadband infrastructure and renewable energy. The programme will promote genuine local economic partnerships and the Leader approach. More than 120,000 training places will be created to foster innovation, co-operation, more sustainable farming practices and stronger rural businesses.

The RDP will fund actions under all six Rural Development Priorities – with a particular emphasis on Priority 4 (agriculture and forestry ecosystems). The focus of each priority is explained briefly below.

Knowledge Transfer and Innovation This cross-cutting priority will be addressed through training, advisory and co-operation measures (with a target of 135 co-operation operations), particularly agrienvironment-climate actions. Support to set up EIP operational groups will be offered. The groups will focus on improving agricultural productivity and sustainability.

Competitiveness of agri sector and sustainable forestry Increasing the productivity and efficiency of farming and forestry will focus on improving business performance. This will include helping farmers, forestry businesses and land managers to apply innovative practices, use new technologies, exchange knowledge and obtain advice and training. This priority will cover 3.2 % of farms.

A specific new scheme, with a modest budget, will encourage young people to take up farming as a career. It will also support diversification away from farming and the creation of small businesses in rural areas.

Food chain organisation, including processing and marketing of agricultural products, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture Support will be given to improving animal health through a number of welfare projects in the livestock and dairy sectors. The projects will be geographically targeted: the animal health projects will deliver national objectives but will focus on areas particularly affected by endemic animal diseases.

Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry The RDP will target biodiversity, water quality and flood management benefits together. The aim is to protect 2.5 million hectares of agricultural land through environmental land management targeted to specific biodiversity and water objectives. Funding will also be provided to plant 14,000 hectares of woodland. New delivery arrangements will replace a number of existing schemes, building on and enhancing the Environmental Stewardship (ES), the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) and the Catchment Sensitive Farming schemes in the 2007-2013 programme.

Resource efficiency and climate The programme will support investment aimed at improving resource efficiency, developing wood fuel supply chains and better managing water reservoirs in the event of floods and droughts. Social inclusion and local development in rural areas

The RDP will support investment strategies developed at local level as well as targeted support in the agri-food and tourism sectors, alongside support for new and existing rural businesses across a wider range of sectors. The programme will also support limited strategic infrastructure investment in those areas that still do not have superfast broadband; and in rural renewables where this offers both economic growth potential and community benefit in addressing fuel poverty. Finally, as a funder of last resort, the programme will provide some limited support for non-agricultural skills and advice benefiting rural SMEs still facing barriers to accessing mainstream and commercial provision.

LEADER Local Development Strategies implemented by 70 Local Action Groups will have a focus on supporting rural jobs and growth. In terms of the overall balance of expenditure for LEADER, projects will directly support rural growth by, for example, creating and developing SMEs and improving the local rural economy.

The five biggest RDP measures in budgetary terms (public allocation) are:

o €2 900 million allocated for Measure 10: Agri-Environment Climate
o €323 million allocated for Measure 4: Productive and non-productive investments
o €218 million allocated for Measure 8: Forestry
o €174 million allocated for Measure 19: Leader
o €107 million allocated for Measure 6: Farm and business development

This information is taken from a European Commission Fact Sheet which is at:http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/rural-development-2014-2020/country-files/uk/factsheet-england_en.pdf