Dairy And Rural Broadband Funding Boost

UK - The dairy industry and rural broadband in England will benefit from £5.2 million of new European funding, Food, Farming and Environment Minister Jim Fitzpatrick announced today.
calendar icon 16 July 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the funding, agreed in Europe as part of the European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP), will be split between the dairy industry and rural broadband infrastructure, and will be delivered through the Regional Development Agencies under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “England’s dairy sector has responded with strength and resilience to big challenges over the past decade and, despite current difficulties, the sector is well positioned for the future.

“However, weak global markets hit by the economic downturn and the recent collapse of Dairy Farmers of Britain mean that confidence in the industry has been hit, and we want to address that.

“That’s why we’re allocating half of the new European funding, an extra £2.6 million, as additional support for the dairy industry to improve its competitiveness, providing an important additional boost to the support for the livestock sector already being provided through the RDPE.”

The rest of the EERP funding will be allocated to the provision of rural broadband infrastructure, with a particular focus on support for community broadband projects. Access to high speed high quality broadband services is an important tool in supporting rural businesses to maintain their competitiveness and develop new market opportunities.

Accessible rural broadband is also increasingly important as a means of ensuring access to services and social inclusion for those living in rural or remote areas. Delivery of this additional funding through the RDAs will help contribute to achieving in rural areas the goals the Government set out in Digital Britain.

In addition, the priority placed on rural broadband within the Rural Development Programme for England will be strengthened in order to enable the Regional Development Agencies to utilise existing funding under the Programme to support rural broadband, alongside other public and private sector funding available.

Mr Fitzpatrick said:

“Broadband can transform jobs, communities and lives in rural areas, helping rural entrepreneurship to grow, supporting businesses, and bringing investment to rural England.

“We need to overcome the barriers some rural communities face in accessing broadband to deliver the true promise of Digital Britain throughout the country and to ensure our rural economy is able to thrive in the years ahead.

“We are working closely with the Regional Development Agencies to ensure that these new funds, and the existing priorities for RDPE, are delivered as effectively as possible to help farmers and rural communities respond to the challenges they face.”

The new priorities are subject to the agreement of the RDPE Programme Monitoring Committee and must be approved by the European Commission. Changes to the programme document will be submitted formally to the Commission for approval along with other changes implementing the CAP Health Check in the next few days.

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