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Written Statement - Launch of the Wales Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 Final Consultation Document  

Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food

I am today publishing the final consultation document for the Wales Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP).

As the second Pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the new RDP will deliver benefits to Wales’ economy, communities and the environment by creating opportunities founded on better, more joined-up and proactive management of our natural resources. The new RDP must support and sustain investment in farming businesses and the wider rural economy. Through our programmes, we will address the very real issue of rural poverty ensuring the fabric of rural Wales becomes increasingly resilient and sustainable.  

Having secured a fair distribution for Wales of the UK allocation of European funding, Wales will receive an increase of 7.8% compared to the current RDP period 2007-2013.  With co-financing above the level required by the Regulations, this will result in a total projected budget for the RDP of £953m across the programme period.

We will invest to ensure communities and businesses across rural Wales will be able to meet the challenges ahead. We will promote competitiveness and create sustainable jobs and growth for the people who live and work in rural Wales.  

Final proposals for the RDP include:

  • A strong focus on providing a holistic support package to farm and forestry businesses
  • Diversification into non-agricultural activities and investigation of markets for Public Goods and Services in order to offer alternative income streams to agricultural businesses
  • Greater emphasis on knowledge transfer and the exchange of information on best practice
  • Increased focus on resource efficiency, business growth, tackling rural fuel poverty and generating a long term income for rural communities.
  • Particular focus on key sectors such as young and new entrants to farming and those in Upland areas  
  • Substantial investment support underpinned by appropriate business planning
  • A revised more flexible Glastir to include an organic farming conversion and maintenance scheme
  • Increased emphasis on woodland management and woodland creation  
  • Promoting cutting edge technologies to support farming and food chains and the processing and marketing of agricultural and forestry products.  
  • Innovation, co-operation and networking a strong emphasis across the whole suite of RDP support
  • Mitigation against adverse climactic events, plant and animal diseases
  • Tackling how poverty affects people’s lives by working to alleviate food and fuel poverty, address local environmental quality and promoting sustainable economic growth including a focus on renewable energy.

The Consultation proposes a balance of funding between the various priority areas which includes 60% to Land-based measures, 11% to Human and Social Capital measures, 15% to Investment and 10% to LEADER and Local Development.  The remaining 4% will go to Technical Assistance measures which provide necessary support functions for the programme.

Through this RDP the Welsh Government will focus almost £1bn on addressing the issues facing rural Wales but also crucially on exploiting the opportunities.  It is underpinned by the principles of green growth so that the actions not only help current generations but also improve things for future generations. We also intend to provide support for small scale renewable energy across the rural economy to support long term sustainable growth. 
It will look to build on what we know works, to refine things to make sure they deliver the best they can and to support new, innovative approaches fit for the future.  It will help to make a transformational change to rural Wales and comes with a commitment to use all the available levers to tackle not just economic poverty in our rural communities, but poverty in all its forms so that the opportunities and prospects for people living and working there are improved.  

The Consultation will run for eight weeks, closing on 14 April.  I anticipate a high degree of interest in the proposals for the next RDP and very much welcome a continuation of the vibrant and in-depth debate we have seen so far about this key suite of activity to support rural development.