Rural Development Programme for Ireland 2014 – 2020

The LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 will provide €250 million in financial resources to support the development of sustainable rural communities. It is expected that the 2014 – 2020 programme will fund enterprise development, job creation, rural tourism and recreation.

In addition, promoting social inclusion through building community capacity, training and animation, basic services for hard to reach communities and enhanced national communication initiatives to improve broadband and building community capacity. Other areas of possible activity include initiatives aimed at rural youth, renewable energy, the protection and sustainable use of water resources at a local level and the protection and improvement of local biodiversity.

Ireland is reconfiguring the way in which local and rural development interventions are implemented. This is in line with Government policy to ensure that local government is well positioned to support the effective and efficient delivery of local and rural development.

A further ten million euro has been allocated to the co-operation element of the Programme. Fifteen million euro has been allocated for the delivery of two agri-food schemes which will be managed jointly by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. Five million euro will be held in reserve for the purposes of supporting Rural Economic Development Zones – REDZ initiative pending the successful outcome of a pilot scheme as identified in the report of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas also known as CEDRA1. In this context €220m of the overall programme complement for the 2014-2020 period has been allocated based on administrative or county boundaries to 28 sub-regional areas as per table overleaf.

Relevant information on 2014 – 2020 Rural Development programme is available on the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government website at entProgrammeLEADER2014-2020/

To fulfil a recommendation under the report of the Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA), a specific allocation of €1m allocation was provided for a CEDRA Rural Innovation and Development Fund in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2015. This fund was used to pilot a small number of innovative initiatives under the CEDRA report. Schemes funded included support for female entrepreneurs in rural areas, support for community based food markets, support for social farming and Local Authority initiative to promote Agri-Tourism.

Rural Development Programme

The following Schemes are provided for in the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme of Ireland – The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas:
• Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme;
• Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme;
• Dairy Equipment Scheme;
• Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment Scheme;
• Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme;
• Organic Capital Investment Scheme (OCIS).

Pillar 1 supports both direct payments to farmers and market management measures
Pillar 2 covers multi-annual rural development measures which include those that have beneficial impacts on the environment and climate change.
Pillar 2 in Ireland takes the form of the 2014-2022 Rural Development Programme. The RDP is cofunded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the national exchequer.

Measure 1 – Knowledge Transfer and Information Actions

This measure consists of:
o Sub-measure 1.1: support for vocational training and skills acquisition actions –Knowledge Transfer (KT) Groups; and
o Sub-measure 1.1: support for vocational training and skills acquisition actions training delivered in support of Measure 10 (Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS)

This training is provided to approved participants in the BDGP and GLAS which is programmed under Measure 10 of the RDP. It aims to optimise the implementation of the schemes and while the scheme intervention logic and contribution is linked to Measure 10, funding for this training is allocated under Measure 1.

Measure 2 – Advisory Services

This measure includes support for the use of advisory services (sub-measure 2.1) and support for the training of advisors (sub-measure 2.3).
o Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for Agricultural Advisors.
o Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health and Welfare (TASAHW)
o Advisory Services to Beef Producer Organisations

CPD for Agricultural Advisors
There are four separate strands of support for farmer advisory services:
o CPD to train farmers on using the carbon navigator for the BDGP and/or KT;
o CPD for KT meeting facilitation skills;
o CPD for the provision of a Farm Health and Safety Training Programme;
o CPD for training of dairy farmers on the Somatic Cell Check workshop

Sub-measure 2.3: Animal Health & Welfare – Training for advisors; and
• Sub-measure 2.1: Animal Health & Welfare – On-farm advice.

This scheme aims to limit the costs associated with certain animal diseases. Animal Health Ireland is  responsible for setting up and organising the provision of an advisory service to farmers on the control and prevention of diseases falling within the scope of the scheme which include Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), Johne’s Disease (JD), Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) and mastitis in
dairy herds.

Business advice and training

A facilitator providing business advice and training must ensure at least one of the below outcomes is met by a Producer Organisation for Beef:
•Ensure that production is planned and adjusted to demand, particularly in terms of quality and quantity
•Concentration of supply and the placing on the market of the products produced by its members, including through direct marketing
•Optimise production costs and returns on investments in response to environmental and animal welfare standards, and stabilising producer prices
•Carry out research and develop initiatives on sustainable production methods, innovative practices, economic competitiveness, and market developments
•Promote, and provide technical assistance for, the use of environmentally sound cultivation practices and production techniques, and sound animal welfare practices
•Develop products with a protected designation of origin, with a protected geographical indication or covered by a national quality label;
•Contribute to the sustainable use of natural resources and to climate change mitigation
•Develop initiatives in the area of promotion and marketing
•Provide the necessary technical assistance for the use of the futures markets and of insurance schemes.

Legal advice and training

A facilitator providing legal advice and training must ensure at least one of the below outcomes is met by a Producer Organisation for Beef:
•Guidance on the application of rules adopted by the producer organisation relating to production reporting, production, marketing, and protection of the environment
•Guidance on how to amend the rules of a PO
•Guidance on rules that allow producer members to work together in a democratic manner
•Guidance on penalties for infringement of obligations under the statutes, particularly for nonpayment of financial contributions, or of the rules laid down by the producer organisation
•Guidance on the rules on the admission of new members, and in particular the minimum period of membership which may not be less than one year
•Finally, guidance on the accounting and budgetary rules necessary for the operation of the organisation.

Measure 4 – Investments in Physical Assets

This measure consists of:
o Sub-measure 4.1: support for investments in agricultural holdings – Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS II); and
o Sub-measure 4.4: support for non-productive investments which are potentially available through the GLAS and Burren schemes. As the underlying logic of this sub-measure is intrinsically linked to the achievement of agri-environment objectives, funding is allocated under Measure 10.


TAMS II will make €395m available to Irish farmers for investment in infrastructure, facilities and equipment under the suite of seven measures (listed below) which are opened for applications in rolling three-month tranches.
• Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme;
• Dairy Equipment Scheme;
• Organic Capital Investment Scheme;
• Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme;
• Low Emissions Slurry Spreading;
• Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme; and
• Tillage Capital Investment Scheme.

€74.9m was expended on Measure 4 in 2020. TAMS II grants were paid to 5,764 farm enterprises and supported more than 6,208 investments worth €141.8m. The overall number of TAMS beneficiaries at the end of 2020 was approximately 21,294. The main expenditure items for TAMS II were the Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme, the Animal Welfare and Nutrient Storage
Scheme and the Dairy Equipment Scheme at €35.3m, €13.5m and €11m respectively. A further €9.6m was spent on funding the acquisition of Low Emissions Slurry Spreading equipment.

Measure 7 – Rural Services and Renewal

Sub-measure 7.6: support for investments associated with the maintenance, restoration and upgrading of the cultural and natural heritage of villages and rural landscapes – GLAS Traditional Farm Buildings Scheme

This scheme provides once-off grant aid for approved conservation work to traditional farm buildings and associated structures that are now used for agricultural purposes or available for such use. It ensures that traditional farm buildings and other structures are restored and conserved for practical agricultural use and is administered by the Heritage Council on behalf of DAFM.

Participation in the GLAS is a primary eligibility condition for entry to the scheme.
In 2020, €1.09m was paid to support the restoration of 90 buildings on 76 farms. When private funding is considered, the total amount invested in these operations was €1.5m.  Total scheme spend, including private investment, at the end of 2020 was approximately €6.5m with grant aid accounting for more than 69% of that figure.

Measure 10 – Agri-environment-climate

The total spend for this measure in 2020 was €243.7m comprised mainly of current RDP schemes (that is the GLAS, BDGP and the Burren Programme in order of expenditure incurred) and just over €10,000 in transitional spending related to the previous RDP.

GLAS promotes agricultural production methods with environmental benefits related to climate change mitigation, improving water quality and the preservation of priority habitats and species through 5 year contracts.

The BDGP requires participating farmers to undertake a range of actions designed to accelerate genetic improvement in the beef herd resulting in climate benefits associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The Burren Programme

The Burren Programme is focused specifically on the conservation of the unique limestone landscape of that region in counties Clare and Galway. It promotes a particular farming model that couples traditional farming practices with scientific assessment of environmental health at field level.

Measure 11 – Organic Farming

Measure 11 consists of:
o Sub-measure 11.1: payment to convert to organic farming practices and methods; and
o Sub-measure 11.2: payment to maintain organic farming practices and methods.

The Organic Farming Scheme aims to encourage farmers to convert from conventional to organic farming methods and to maintain those methods after the initial two-year conversion period.

Measure 12 – Natura 2000 payments

Sub-measure 12.1: Compensation payment for Natura 2000 agricultural areas.
Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of protected areas designated as being of special value and importance for the endangered animals, plants and habitats that they contain. These sites comprise both Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for habitats and species. Some sites are designated as both an SPA and an SAC.

The measure is programmed solely to provide for ongoing commitments from the 2007-2013 RDP as Natura sites are targeted under Measure 10 GLAS in the current RDP. The scheme supports farmers in dealing with specific disadvantages arising from the conservation of natural habitats and the effective management of those ecologically important sites. It thus contributes to the appropriate environmental management of farmed Natura sites in compliance with EU rules.

Measure 13 – Areas facing natural or other specific constraints

The measure consists of the following two sub-measures:
o Sub-measure 13.2: compensation payment for other areas facing significant natural constraints; and
o Sub-measure 13.3: compensation payment to other areas affected by specific constraints (referring to island farming).

Support under these two sub-measures is disbursed nationally under a single Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme. It is the largest RDP support available to farmers. The scheme provides important environmental and social benefits by compensating farmers for additional costs and ncome foregone related to constraints on agricultural production in the areas concerned. A separate
category of support is available to compensate island farmers in recognition of the specific constraints on agricultural activity in those locations.

Measure 14 – Animal Welfare

Payment for animal welfare – Sheep Welfare Scheme

The objective of the Sheep Welfare Scheme is to develop the Irish sheep production system. It contributes to improved animal welfare in the areas of lameness control, parasite control, flystrike  control and appropriate supplementation. Sheep farmers with breeding ewes can apply for payment based on two actions of their choice from a menu of options appropriate to their flock type (i.e. hill or lowland).Payment under the scheme is based on the number of eligible breeding ewes in an individual flock.

Measure 16 – Co-operation

This measure is comprised of the following elements:
o Sub-measure 16.1: support for the establishment of European Innovation Partnership (EIP) operational groups for agricultural productivity and sustainability.
• General EIPs
• Locally Led Hen Harrier & Freshwater Pearl Mussel Projects
• Locally Led Environmental & Climate Projects
o Sub-measure 16.3: Co-operation among small operators in organising joint work processes and sharing facilities and resources – Collaborative Farming Grant Scheme.

European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs)

EIP Operational Groups are clearly linked to supporting innovation and best practice. Specifically, they will be intended to address some or all of the following:
• promoting a resource efficient, productive and low emission agricultural sector, working in harmony with the essential natural resources on which farming depends,
• improving processes to preserve the environment and agricultural landscapes, address biodiversity challenges, enhance water quality, adapt to climate change, and mitigate it, and
• creating added value by better linking research and farming practice and encouraging the wider use of available innovative practices.
There are two funding streams for EIP groups depending on the themes they seek to address in their project proposals.
• The general stream which focuses on projects relating to farm viability, economic performance, sustainable forest management and innovative technologies and;
• The locally-led stream focusing on projects dealing with environmental, biodiversity and climate change.

Collaborative Farming Grant Scheme

Collaborative approaches to farming can address some of the structural challenges facing Irish agriculture such as limited land availability and intergenerational transfer. This scheme is specifically aimed at encouraging the formation of new farm partnerships by contributing up to 50% of vouched legal, accounting and advisory costs incurred in drawing up a partnership agreement, subject to a maximum payment of €2,500.

Measure 19 – LEADER

There are 4 sub-measures to LEADER:
o Sub-measure 19.1: Preparatory support.
o Sub-measure 19.2: Support for implementation of operations under the Community-led Local Development strategy;
o Sub-measure 19.3: Preparation and implementation of co-operation activities of Local Action Groups; and
o Sub-measure 19.4: Support for running costs and animation.

LEADER aims to address local needs under the broad themes of economic development, social inclusion and rural development. Local communities direct where this funding is provided through their participation in Local Action Groups (LAGs) and the implementation of Local Development Strategies (LDSs) formulated by the LAGs. LAGs have been selected in all 28 sub-regional areas covering a population of 3.1m rural dwellers and funding agreements signed with all groups.

LEADER expenditure in 2020 exceeded €46m with most of this sum provided for funding of project implementation. Substantial increases in the number of projects approved for funding in 2020 continued. Consequently, project payments have increased considerably reaching €35.4m million in 2020 compared to €30.2m in 2019. Given the growing pipeline of project approvals it is anticipated that the momentum now evident in LEADER will ensure a full drawdown of the available funding over the programming period. Cumulative expenditure under Measure 19 amounted to €123.9m at the end of 2020.

The LEADER Programme has continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 crisis period with Local Action Group (LAG) and Implementing Partners (IP) staff working remotely. DRCD has  issued a number of circulars to the LAGs to guide and assist, in the context of the pandemic. These include a number of administrative flexibilities such as permitting the Evaluation Committee and
LAG Decision Making Meetings to be held via telephone or video conference facilities and the use of electronic signatures on forms to assist with processing of payment claims. In addition, and where necessary, the use of photographic evidence in lieu of the Capital Site visit is permitted. The impact of these initiatives is evidenced by the number of project applications approved, and claims paid
during the crisis period.

Measure 20 – Technical Assistance

o Sub-measure 20.1: Support for technical assistance (other than the National Rural Network  (NRN)).
o Sub-measure 20.2: Support for establishing and operating the NRN.

Measure 113 – Early Retirement Scheme
Cumulative expenditure under Measure 113 amounted to €7.6m at the end of 2020. No payments were made to scheme beneficiaries in 2020.

Priority / Focus Area

P1: Fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas 1A) Fostering innovation, cooperation, and the development of the knowledge base in rural areas
1B) Strengthening the links between agriculture, food production and forestry and research and innovation, including for the purpose of improved environmental management and performance
1C) Fostering lifelong and vocational training in agriculture and forestry sectors

P2: Enhancing farm viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture in all regions and promoting innovative farm technologies and the sustainable management of forests
2A) Improving the economic performance of all farms and facilitating farm restructuring and modernisation, notably with a view to increasing market participation and orientation as agricultural diversification
2B) Facilitating the entry of adequately skilled farmers into the agricultural sector and in particular, generational renewal P3: Promoting food chain organisation, including processing and marketing of agricultural products, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture
3A) Improving competitiveness of primary producers by better integrating them into the agri-food chain through quality schemes, adding value to agricultural products, promotion in local markets and short supply circuits, producer groups and inter-branch organisations
3B) Supporting farm risk prevention and management
P4: Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry
4A) Restoring, preserving and enhancing biodiversity, including in Natura 2000 areas, in areas facing natural constraints and high nature value farming, as well as the state of European landscapes
4B) Improving water management, including fertiliser and pesticide management
4C) Preventing soil erosion and improving soil management
P5: Promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift towards a low carbon and climate resilient economy in agriculture, food and forestry sectors
5A) Increasing efficiency in water use by agriculture
5B) Increasing efficiency in energy use in agriculture and food processing
5C) Facilitating the supply and use of renewable sources of energy, of by products, wastes, residues and non-food raw materials for the purposes of the bio-economy
5D) Reducing greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from agriculture
5E) Fostering carbon conservation and sequestration in agriculture and forestry
P6: Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas
6A) Facilitating diversification, creation and development of small enterprises, as well as job creation
6B) Fostering local development in rural areas
6C) Enhancing the accessibility, use and quality of information and communication technologies (ICT) in rural areas

Measure / Sub-measure

M01 – Knowledge transfer and information actions (art 14)
M1.1 – support for vocational training and skills acquisition actions
M1.2 – support for demonstration activities and information actions
M1.3 – support for short-term farm and forest management exchange as well as farm and forest visits
M02 – Advisory services, farm management and farm relief services (art 15)
M2.1 – support to help benefiting from the use of advisory services
M2.2 – support for the setting up of farm management, farm relief and farm advisory services as well as forestry advisory services
M2.3 – support for training of advisors
M03 – Quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (art 16)
M3.1 – support for new participation in quality schemes
M3.2 – Support for information and promotion activities implemented by groups of producers in the internal market
M04 – Investments in physical assets (art 17)
M4.1 – support for investments in agricultural holdings
M4.2 – support for investments in processing/marketing and/or development of agricultural products
M4.3 – support for investments in infrastructure related to development, modernisation or adaptation of agriculture and forestry
M4.4 – support for non-productive investments linked to the achievement of agri-environment climate objectives
M05 – Restoring agricultural production potential damaged by natural disasters and catastrophic events and introduction of appropriate prevention actions (art 18)
M5.1 – support for investments in preventive actions aimed at reducing the consequences of probable natural disasters, adverse climatic events and catastrophic events
M5.2 – support for investments for the restoration of agricultural land and production potential
damaged by natural disasters, adverse climatic events and catastrophic events

M06 – Farm and business development (art 19)
M6.1 – business start-up aid for young farmers
M6.2 – business start-up aid for non-agricultural activities in rural areas
M6.3 – business start-up aid for the development of small farms
M6.4 – support for investments in creation and development of non-agricultural activities
M6.5 – payments for farmers eligible for the small farmers scheme who permanently transfer their holding to another farmer

M07 – Basic services and village renewal in rural areas (art 20)
M7.1 – support for drawing up and updating of plans for the development of municipalities and villages in rural areas and their basic services and of protection and management plans relating to N2000 sites and other areas of high nature value
M7.2 – support for investments in the creation, improvement or expansion of all types of smallscale infrastructure, including investments in renewable energy and energy saving
M7.3 – support for broadband infrastructure, including its creation, improvement and expansion, passive broadband infrastructure and provision of access to broadband and public e-government
M7.4 – support for investments in the setting-up, improvement or expansion of local basic services for the rural population including leisure and culture, and the related infrastructure
M7.5 – support for investments for public use in recreational infrastructure, tourist information and small-scale tourism infrastructure
M7.6 – support for studies/investments associated with the maintenance, restoration and upgrading of the cultural and natural heritage of villages, rural landscapes and high nature value sites including related socio-economic aspects, as well as environmental awareness actions
M7.7 – support for investments targeting the relocation of activities and conversion of buildings or other facilities located inside or close to rural settlements, with a view to improving the quality of life or increasing the environmental performance of the settlement
M7.8 – others
M08 – Investments in forest area development and improvement of the viability of forests (art 21-26)
M8.1 – support for afforestation/creation of woodland
M8.2 – support for establishment and maintenance of agro-forestry systems
M8.3 – support for prevention of damage to forests from forest fires and natural disasters and catastrophic events

M8.4 – support for restoration of damage to forests from forest fires and natural disasters and catastrophic events
M8.5 – support for investments improving the resilience and environmental value of forest ecosystems
M8.6 – support for investments in forestry technologies and in processing, mobilising and marketing of forest products
M09 – Setting-up of producer groups and organisations (art 27)
M9.1 – setting up of producer groups and organisations in the agriculture and forestry sectors
M10 – Agri-environment-climate (art 28)
M10.1 – payment for agri-environment-climate commitments
M10.2 – support for conservation and sustainable use and development of genetic resources in agriculture
M11 – Organic farming (art 29)
M11.1 – payment to convert to organic farming practices and methods
M11.2 – payment to maintain organic farming practices and methods
M12 – Natura 2000 and Water Framework Directive payments (art 30)
M12.1 – compensation payment for Natura 2000 agricultural areas
M12.2 – compensation payment for Natura 2000 forest areas
M12.3 – compensation payment for agricultural areas included in river basin management plans
M13 – Payments to areas facing natural or other specific constraints (art 31)
M13.1 – compensation payment in mountain areas
M13.2 – compensation payment for other areas facing significant natural constraints
M13.3 – compensation payment to other areas affected by specific constraints
M14 – Animal welfare (art 33)
M14.1 – payment for animal welfare
M15 – Forest environmental and climate services and forest conservation (art 34)
M15.1 – payment for forest -environmental and climate commitments
M15.2 – support for the conservation and promotion of forest genetic resources
M16 – Co-operation (art 35)
M16.0 – others
M16.1 – support for the establishment and operation of operational groups of the EIP for agricultural productivity and sustainability
M16.2 – support for pilot projects, and for the development of new products, practices, processes and technologies
M16.3 – (other) co-operation among smalls operators in organising joint work processes and sharing facilities and resources, and for developing/marketing tourism
M16.4 – support for horizontal and vertical co-operation among supply chain actors for the establishment and development of short supply chains and local markets, and for promotion activities in a local context relating to the development of short supply chains and local markets
M16.5 – support for joint action undertaken with a view to mitigating or adapting to climate change, and for joint approaches to environmental projects and ongoing environmental practices
M16.6 – support for cooperation among supply chain actors for sustainable provision of biomass for use in food and energy production and industrial processes
M16.7 – support for non-CLLD local development strategies
M16.8 – support for drawing up of forest management plans or equivalent instruments
M16.9 – support for diversification of farming activities into activities concerning health care, social integration, community-supported agriculture and education about the environment and food

M17 – Risk management (art 36)
M17.1 – Crop, animal and plant insurance premium
M17.2 – Mutual funds for adverse climatic events, animal and plant diseases, pest infestations and environmental incidents
M17.3 – Income stabilisation tool
M18 – Financing of complementary national direct payments for Croatia (art 40)
M18 – Financing of complementary national direct payments for Croatia

M19 – Support for LEADER local development (CLLD – community-led local development) (art 35 Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013)
M19.1 – Preparatory support
M19.2 – Support for implementation of operations under the community-led local development strategy
M19.3 – Preparation and implementation of cooperation activities of the local action
M19.4 – Support for running costs and animation
M20 – Technical assistance Member States (art 51-54)
M20.1 – support for technical assistance (other than NRN)
M20.2 – support for establishing and operating the NRN
M113 – Early retirement
M131 – Meeting standards based on Community legislation
M341 – Skills acquisition, animation and implementation


Important Notice! This website is provided for informational purposes only! It is a fundamental condition of the use of this website that no liability is accepted for any loss or damage caused by reason of any error, omission, or misstatement in its contents. 

Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *