Drop in LEADER funding very worrying for rural development
Labour agriculture spokesperson Seán Sherlock has said the drop in LEADER funding announced today is a worrying signal to all in rural Ireland. Questioning the government’s commitment to sustainable development of rural Ireland, Deputy Sherlock said government must think beyond the farm gate when it comes to supporting agricultural communities.
Deputy Sherlock said:
“As part of the CAP Strategic Plan Funding announced by government today, only €180 million has been provided to LEADER funding within Pillar 2. This represents a significant drop from the €400 million that used to be allocated for LEADER projects in pre-crash times.
“The focus now seems to be on providing Pillar 2 funding inside the farm gate and I’m very concerned that there won’t be enough money available for LEADER groups throughout the country. LEADER funding is used to support sustainable economic development projects for rural communities ranging from tourism, agri-food and other business activities. This money is needed to target social inclusion and rural isolation as well as increasing the capacity of rural communities to participate in economic development.
“LEADER is a vital lifeline for many rural communities. There are commitments to rural Ireland in the Programme for Government but they must put their money where their mouth is. €180 million represents a huge cut that must be clarified by government. We must ensure that there is not a knock on effect for the delivery of programmes in rural Ireland.”