Farming fund plea
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
THE Ulster Farmers' Union has said it's vital that the Northern Ireland Executive commits to 50:50 match funding the next Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) 2014-2020.
UFU President Harry Sinclair said: "Even with match funding from the NI Executive, the next Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) will be operating with a reduced budget. Decisions will need to be made as to how this budget is allocated and these decisions must be made strategically.
“Realistically, there won't be funding for all the schemes proposed and funds must be targeted where they will have the most impact to drive economic growth. The Agri-Food Strategy Board (AFSB) has already laid out ambitious plans to grow the industry by 60 per cent to £7billion by 2020, and the industry will struggle to achieve this without sufficient support.
“Our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) have already demonstrated how substantial support from the Government can help to grow the industry considerably. In 2012, Irish food and drinks exports increased by ninbe per cent, reaching the €10bn mark for the first time ever, and in fact, since 2009 the industry has grown by an incredible 40 per cent.
“The ROI Government has recently stepped up to the mark again announcing their commitment to co-finance the country's next Rural Development Programme with funding from the programme prioritised to help support the continued growth of the agri-food industry. ROI is already well on track to hit its target to grow their agri-food industry to €12bn by 2020, and their Government is committed to supporting the industry to deliver that.
Here at home, there are well developed plans to grow and develop our agri-food industry as a whole but in order for those plans to be realised, the foundations of the industry must be strong."
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