What is the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020?

The Rural Development Programme (RDP) is supported through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which is the single largest common policy across the European Union. The CAP framework sets out a range of farming, environmental and rural development activities as well as controlling EU agricultural markets.

The CAP is based on a two-pillar structure – Pillar 1 and Pillar 2.

  • Pillar 1 supports both direct payments to farmers and market management measures.
  • Pillar 2 focuses on improving the structural and environmental performance of agriculture and on promoting local/rural development.

Rural Development is supported through Pillar 2. The European Union has three objectives for the development of our rural areas:

  • Objective 1 - Improving the competitiveness of the agriculture, forest and food industries;
    • Improving the skills and knowledge and stimulating innovation, needed for business continuity and growth.
    • Improving resource efficiency by reducing operating costs.
    • Investing in capital equipment and buildings to ensure the long-term viability of the industry.
    • Improving the health and welfare of animals through increased knowledge and skills.
  • Objective 2 - The sustainable management of the region’s natural resources; and
    • Ensuring the growth of the agri-food industry is sustainable through the reduction of GHGs and ammonia emissions.
    • Supporting those that own and actively manage the land and woodlands to develop practices which improve biodiversity.
    • Supporting farming practices which improve water and soil quality.
    • The planting of new woodlands and the management of existing forests to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • Objective 3 - The development of rural areas.
    • Promoting economic growth through the provision of support for rural businesses and the rural tourism sector.
    • Reducing poverty and social isolation by targeting support to tackle inequalities, deprivation, and access to key services including ICT.

Each region within a Member State can design their rural development programmes from a selection of the measures set out in the EU Rural Development Regulation. Northern Ireland, as a region, has developed a programme of support taking into account the problems and needs identified for our rural areas. This programme of support was approved by the EU on the 25 August 2015 and is worth in the region of £623m.


What is supported under the RDP?

The following are the main areas which will be supported:

  •  Education, knowledge and skills to maintain and improve the competitiveness of the agri-food industry
  • Innovation for the development and transfer of new innovative ideas to improve the competiveness, growth and development of the agri-food industry.
  •  Capital investment in farm businesses to improve profitability and sustainability.
  •  Investment in food and drink to add more value to agricultural produce to help better co-operation between primary producers and processors.
  •  The protection and improvement of the environment by planting new woodlands and the management of existing forests to help reduce the effects of climate change and managing the countryside to improve biodiversity.
  •  Economic development of rural areas by investing in rural businesses, the renewal of rural villages, improving basic services and the investment in the natural and built heritage to encourage rural tourism.


For programme documents and further details of schemes under the RDP, please go to or email where your query will be redirected to the relevant personnel.


Please keep an eye on this website and TWITTER  and FACEBOOK feeds for details of new schemes opening.