RURAL development schemes designed to help not just farming but other business and social enterprises in the countryside have been given a major boost in Yorkshire, according to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Such schemes, promoted under the England Rural Development Programme and known as ERDPs, were at first received with some cynicism by some country folk, many of whom looked upon than as a gimmick dreamed up to distract attention from the damage done by the food and mouth debacle.
But new figures released by Defra in Yorkshire and the Humber show that they are now being widely accepted and the take-up is growing. During 2004 shows that 102 projects were supported and:
- Over 2,000 full time equivalent jobs were created or sustained under new Rural Enterprise Scheme projects;
- Over 29,000 training days were secured for farmers and foresters under the Vocational Training Scheme.
- 6,000 hectares of new woodland were planted under Woodland Grant Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme agreements;
- Countryside Stewardship agreements, reached a total estimated area of 325,000 hectares;
- Environmentally Sensitive Area agreements reached a total estimated area of 132,000 hectares;
- 16 collaborative marketing ventures were established under new Processing and Marketing Grant projects.
Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight commented: "As well as delivering real benefits for rural communities, their economies and the environment, the ERDP also helps farmers to diversify their businesses, reconnect with their markets and acquire the skills they need to manage their businesses viably and competitively in response to the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the introduction of the Single Payment Scheme."