Sinn Féin DARD Committee Member, Declan McAleer MLA has welcomed the announcement by Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill of £623million funding for Rural Development.
The West tyrone MLA said;
“A well-funded Rural Development Programme is essential to delivering positive change in our rural areas. It is to her credit that the Minister persevered in her resolve to ensure rural communities receive adequate funding to provide support to farming, business and voluntary organisations that are vital to development and growth.
“Farming and rural communities are the bedrock of our economy contributing significantly to the quality of life of tens of thousands of families and they have been coming under increasing economic pressures in recent times.
“Rural development is vital not just for the benefit of local communities but for its contribution to the growth and prosperity of the North and the island’s economy. It is a vital driver for economic growth and it is gratifying to see that Minister O’Neill is giving it the priority it deserves. The fact that the proposed package containing approximately £186.5m of European funding will be matched pound for pound from her own DARD budget is a demonstration of her commitment to rural communities.
“Having received the Executive’s approval, the Minister will bid for up to £250m of additional funds to give a total budget value of up to £623m. This £623million will redress the negative impact to the Rural Development Programme following the court action taken by the DUP to block the Minister’s attempts to address the inequalities in the existing programme.
“As stated by Minister O’Neill today – “Overall, today’s announcements represent a good deal for farmers and the agri-food sector, a good deal for the environment and a good deal for the rural economy.”