The Flemish Rural Development Programme 2007-2013. Annual Report 2008

Michael Van Zeebroeck, Koen Carels, Vincent Samborski, Sylvie Danckaert

June 2009

The PDPO annual report 2008 provides an overview of the second year of implementation of the new Flemish Rural Development Programme (PDPO II, 2007-2013). In the report the main emphasis is on the monitoring data for the different measures. Attention is paid also to the activities in the area of evaluation and the implementation circumstances.

In 2008 a total of 110 million Euros of public money was spent on the different measures and technical support. For the first two years of PDPO II this comes down to 197 million Euros , which is 29.5% of the budgeted expenditure for the whole programme period. Public spending in 2008 is distributed as follows over the different focus areas: Focus Area 1: 70.2%, Focus Area 2: 22.4%, Focus Area 3: 7.0% and Focus Area 4: 0.5%. Within Focus Area 1, 90% of the expenditure was allocated via the Flemish Agricultural Investment Fund (VLIF) for the measures ‘establishment of young farmers’ and ‘modernisation of agricultural businesses’. Within Focus Area 2, 97% of the expenditure was dedicated to agri-environmental measures. 43% of the expenditure within Focus Area 3 can be attributed to the measure ‘diversification of agricultural businesses to non-agricultural activities’ (VLIF) and 29% to measures falling under ‘promotion of tourism activities’.

In the framework of education, mainly starter and training courses on ICT, management/marketing and farming techniques were organised. In total, 4,153 farmers and agricultural contractors participated in one or more courses or training activities in 2008. The first two years of implementation 7,373 farmers and agricultural contractors participated in at least one course or training activity. In 2008 5,092 diplomas and certificates were issued to 3,723 different people. During the first two years of PDPO II 9,907 diplomas and certificates were issued to 6,650 different people. 35% of participants in courses and training activities in 2007/2008 were women, and 52% were under 40. These percentages vary little from one year to another.

The subject matter of short training activities or info sessions was often farming techniques (77%), but also landscape conservation and improvement/environmental protection (13%) and management/marketing (7%). In total, 143,168 (not necessarily different) people took part in short training activities.

In 2008 11,500 people participated in sustainable agriculture awareness projects (demo projects). By far the largest group of participants (62%) was recorded for demo projects falling under the category ‘landscape conservation and improvement/environmental protection’, followed by ‘new technological processes and innovative approaches’ (17%).

For the measure ‘establishment of young farmers’ 11 million Euros were paid out in 2008. 162 new PDPO II applications and 28 applications that were submitted during PDPO I were approved. 22% of approved PDPO II applications took place in the framework of early retirement, i.e. in cases where the previous business manager was between 55 and 64 years old. 14% of the PDPO II establishment applications were submitted by women.

In 2008 1,059 requests for business advice were provisionally approved. In the period 2007-2008 1,084 farmers requested business advice. However, the content of these advice dossiers will only become known during monitoring year 2009. In 2008 5,151 and 2,711 farmers, respectively, received subsidies for the environment module and business management advice. These are both measures dating from the previous programme period for which the five-year contract is continued.

For the measure ‘modernisation of agricultural businesses’ 58 million Euros were paid out in 2008. 1,677 applications that had been submitted under the PDPO II legislation were approved. 35% of these applications concerned investments for mixed businesses, 21% for dairy cattle businesses and 21% for horticultural businesses. 13% of these applications were submitted by legal persons. 5% of applications submitted by natural persons were submitted by women and 40% by persons under 40. 5% of the investment applications were for a new technique at sector level (e.g. CHP installation). In 2008 1,189 applications dating from PDPO I were approved. Only 0.01% and 3.5%, respectively, of the support paid was destined for businesses with more than 50% of parcels located in LFA areas (Fragile Nature Area with zero fertilisation) and Natura 2000 areas.

In 2008 the first call was launched for financial support to agri-food companies. In that call qualifying investments were limited to energy and environmental investments, except in the sectors of cereal and seeds for sowing, where, respectively, investments for primary cereal storage and a barcode system were proposed. For 54 agri-food companies the application was approved. From the perspective of the approved subsidisable investment costs the most important investments are made in the vegetable and fruit sector (44%), the meat sector (23%) and the cereal sector (28%).

In 2008 compensatory payments were received for 878 companies with zero fertilisation parcels located in Fragile Nature Areas. These referred to a total area of 2,253 ha, 1,002 ha of which were located within Natura 2000 areas. During PDPO II a nature compensation has already been paid for 1,616 agricultural businesses.

In 2008 24 million Euros agri-environmental support was paid. 47% of this expenditure was destined for the water management agreement and 15% for the expiring measure ‘green manure’. Where surface area is concerned, the expiring measure ‘green manure’ constitutes 59% of the total area and 43% of the total number of contracts. The total area of agri-environmental measures fell by 6,747 ha compared to 2007 (This figure does not include the area of small landscape elements because a link with the plots has not been possible since 2008. The data up to 2007 did not indicate the area of small landscape elements, but the area of the plots to which they were linked). In total, the area of agri-environmental measures decreased by 8,176 ha in the first two years of PDPO II. This is primarily due to the expiring ‘green manure’ measure, and secondly to the ‘water MA’. The area of the following agri-environmental measures clearly decreased: ‘green manure’ (-6%), ‘water MA’ (-8%) and ‘nature MA’ (-13%). The area of the following agri-environmental measures clearly increased in 2008 with regard to 2007: ‘buffer zone MA’ (+6%), ‘ornamental plants’ (+5%), ‘standard tree orchards’ (+18%), ‘Papilionaceae’ (+13%) and ‘erosion MA’ (+9%). In absolute numbers, the increase in ‘Papilionaceae (protein crops)’ is particularly notable: an increase of 1,706 ha with regard to 2006, 721 ha of which was in the last year. The area of the following agri-environmental measures decreased slightly: ‘species protection MA’ (-0.5%) and ‘organic agriculture hectare support’ (-1%), ‘botanic management MA’ (Excluding ‘nature MA’) (-2%) and ‘mechanical weed control’ (-4%). In 2008 13,020 beneficiaries carried out one or more agri-environmental measures on an area of 119,555 ha. This means a decrease by 1,958 ha compared to the previous year. 9,700 ha (8%) are located in Natura 2000 areas, 1,138 ha (1%) in areas belonging to the Flemish Ecological Network (VEN) and 469 ha (0.4%) in LFA areas.

For the measure ‘afforestation of agricultural land’ the first PDPO II applications were approved in 2008. It concerns 49 applications for 46 different beneficiaries for an area of 58 ha. For 52% of this area the afforestation will consist of one deciduous tree species and for 48% of a combination of different tree species. In 2008 the maintenance subsidy and income compensation payments were also continued for 397 dossiers dating from PDPO I. The total area of these dossiers is 523 ha and is owned by 317 owners. In 2008 157 requests for 145 different forest owners were approved for the measure ‘non-productive investments in forests’.

For the measure ‘investments relating to the diversification of agricultural activities’ 3 million Euros of subsidies were paid out in 2008. 98 new investment applications that were submitted during PDPO II were approved. Both the number of applications and the subsidisable investment cost show that investments in renewable energy are by far the most important form of diversification. 15% of approved applications were submitted by legal persons. In 2008 66 applications dating from PDPO I were approved as well.

For the measure ‘promotion of tourism activities’ 12 new projects were approved by the provincial management committees (PMCs) in 2008. During PDPO II 25 projects have already been approved. In 2008 payments took place for the projects approved in 2007, as well as for nature and land use projects dating from the previous programme period.

For the measures ‘basic facilities for the economy and the rural population’, ‘town centre renewal and development’ and ‘intermediary services’ respectively 10, 11 and 10 new projects were approved by the PMCs in 2008. This brings the total number of approved projects during PDPO II to respectively 21, 29 and 29.

For the measure ‘conservation and revaluation of the rural heritage’ 5 new projects were approved by the PMCs in 2008. During PDPO II 22 projects have already been approved by the PMCs. In 2008 payments took place for the projects approved in 2007, as well as for 4 nature and land use projects dating from the previous programme period.

LEADER (Focus Area 4) was started in 2008 with the establishment of 10 LEADER areas. One fifth of the Flemish population lives in a LEADER area. At the end of 2008 348 people were members of a Local Group. The Local Groups approved 87 projects in 2008. 36% of the approved LEADER projects belong to tourism activities, 22% to rural heritage, 18% to basic facilities, 16% to intermediary services and 8% to town centre renewal. In 2008 no payments were made yet for these projects. There are 141 beneficiaries of the LEADER projects, 38% of which in the public sector and 62% of which in the private sector.

In 2008 265 activities were organised by the Local Groups. 59% of those activities referred to the notification of local development strategies, and 23% to the training of personnel responsible for the drawing up and carrying out of those local development strategies. The remaining share of activities was aimed at studies of the area in question and promotion.

Original version:

Van Zeebroeck M., Carels K., Samborski V. & Danckaert S. (2009)
Vlaams Programma voor Plattelandsontwikkeling 2007-2013
Departement Landbouw en Visserij, Brussel.

Departement Landbouw en Visserij
Ellipsgebouw (6de verdieping) - Koning Albert II-Laan 35, bus 40 - 1030 Brussel
Tel. 02 552 78 20 - Fax 02 552 78 21