Farm diversification in the EU

25-04-2016

Many European farmers are struggling to make a living in a difficult economic context of falling prices in key agricultural commodities and high agricultural market volatility. For many, a way to stabilise or increase their income is to branch out into other non agricultural activities, using farm facilities. From tourist accommodation to the production of renewable energies or the sale of handicrafts, a wide range of diversified activities can be implemented on the farm itself. The situation is fairly contrasted across the EU as regards diversification, which is quite common in some Member States and almost inexistent in others. EU rural development policy supports farmers setting up other activities on their farms as part of a more general objective of maintaining a strong farming sector in Europe, which is a necessary condition for the development of rural economies. Farmers wishing to set up diversification activities can benefit from start-up aid of maximum €70 000 from the rural development fund (EAFRD), with co-financing from their Member State, or from another type of aid in the form of support for investments. At this stage of the current programming period (2014-2020), Member States’ rural development programmes, indicating how they intend to spend their rural development envelopes, have all been adopted. According to the European Commission, countries and regions have allocated 7.4% on average of total public expenditure to the measure dedicated to farm and business development, which includes, inter alia, support for farm diversification.

Many European farmers are struggling to make a living in a difficult economic context of falling prices in key agricultural commodities and high agricultural market volatility. For many, a way to stabilise or increase their income is to branch out into other non agricultural activities, using farm facilities. From tourist accommodation to the production of renewable energies or the sale of handicrafts, a wide range of diversified activities can be implemented on the farm itself. The situation is fairly contrasted across the EU as regards diversification, which is quite common in some Member States and almost inexistent in others. EU rural development policy supports farmers setting up other activities on their farms as part of a more general objective of maintaining a strong farming sector in Europe, which is a necessary condition for the development of rural economies. Farmers wishing to set up diversification activities can benefit from start-up aid of maximum €70 000 from the rural development fund (EAFRD), with co-financing from their Member State, or from another type of aid in the form of support for investments. At this stage of the current programming period (2014-2020), Member States’ rural development programmes, indicating how they intend to spend their rural development envelopes, have all been adopted. According to the European Commission, countries and regions have allocated 7.4% on average of total public expenditure to the measure dedicated to farm and business development, which includes, inter alia, support for farm diversification.