Ministers at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have welcomed publication of the revised National Development Plan (NDP).
As part of Project Ireland 2040, the new €165 billion NDP sets out the government’s “over-arching investment strategy and budget” for the period 2021 to 2030.
“As we emerge from the pandemic and continue to deal with the challenges posed by Brexit, the NDP review allows us to map out the development of the agri-food sector,” Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said.
Rural Development Programme
The strategic investment priorities for the Department of Agriculture include the Rural Development Programme and on-farm investment.
Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020, which has been extended to 2022, will provide €1.5 billion of support to rural communities in Ireland over its remaining lifetime.
Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan (CSP) for the period 2023-2027 “will underpin the sustainable development of Ireland’s farming and food sector by supporting viable farm incomes and enhancing competitiveness”.
It will also strengthen “the socioeconomic fabric of rural areas, and by contributing to the achievement of environmental and climate objectives at national and EU levels”.
“I expect that the On-Farm Capital Investment Scheme under Ireland’s 2023-2027 CSP will help farmers looking to invest in capital projects on their farms,” Minister McConalogue said.
“Investment will increase environmental efficiency in the sector through the adoption of new technologies, support young farmers in accessing finance so they are in a better position to invest in and develop their farm enterprise, and improve animal health and welfare, and farm safety on farms.”
Minister of State Martin Heydon said that “greater innovation both inside and outside the farm-gate to enhance both economic and environmental efficiency will be central to achieving the ambition of Food Vision 2030”.
“The agri-food sector will require appropriate access to finance to fulfil these goals. Government will continue to monitor the sector’s accessibility to finance and consult with stakeholders on their requirements in this regard,” the minister added.
The department said it will consider utilising some of its NDP funding to redevelop the regional laboratory network and introduce pilot anaerobic digester projects.
Both potential projects are at the very early stages of planning and definitive costs or timelines are yet to be assigned.
The Climate Action Plan 2019 outlines 34 “high-level actions with associated sub measures specifically for the forest sector, including a target of an average of 8,000ha of afforestation per year”, the department said.
“The targets set out in the Climate Action Plan are aligned with the level of ambition for afforestation specified in the current Forestry Programme 2014-2020, with targets for afforestation rising incrementally to 8,100ha per annum to 2020.”
Minister of State Pippa Hackett noted that the forestry programme is “100% exchequer funded and received approval to be extended to the end of 2022 by the European Commission, in accordance with state aid transition requirements”.
“The programme represents state investment in the forestry sector of some €482 million over its lifetime,” the minister said.
“This NDP will ensure a publicly-funded capital programme for afforestation beyond the lifetime of the current Forestry Programme 2014–2020; and I welcome that. This will help us to achieve the afforestation targets in the Climate Action Plan.”
The NDP will provide the Department of Rural and Community Development with capital investment of €962 million over the period 2021 to 2025.
It is expected that the capital funding provided for in the NDP will allow:
- A total of €850 million in capital funding for rural development to 2025 – this includes over €480 million for rural regeneration and development schemes such as RRDF and Town and Village Renewal and over €220 million to be invested in rural Ireland through the LEADER programme;
- Funding to deliver key capital projects for the islands;
- Increased investment in community development including a new capital scheme to upgrade community centres.
Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys said that the NDP will provide “the necessary funding” to put Our Rural Future into action.
“It will allow us to do things like invest in rural regeneration projects, revitalise our town centres, capitalise on remote working opportunities and repurpose old buildings into 21st century use,” the minister said.
“It will allow us to invest heavily in our outdoor amenities such as our walkways, cycleways, lakes and forests.
“I am determined to revitalise and re-imagine rural Ireland – making it a better place to live, work and raise a family.”