COVID-19: Boosting aid for farmers from the EU rural development fund

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The European Parliament has approved increased funding for farmers through the EU’s rurarl development fund in a bid to support the sector through the current challenging times.

The emergency measure, approved in the Parliament by 636 votes in favour to 21 against, with 8 abstentions, will allow EU member states to use EU money remaining from their rural development programmes to pay out a one-off lump-sum in compensation to farmers and small rural businesses particularly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. This targeted liquidity support from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) should help them stay in business.

More money and time to make payments

The compensation payable to the worst-hit farmers could be as high as €7,000, which is €2,000 more than proposed by the EU Commission. The ceiling for the support for agri-food SMEs should remain at the level of €50,000, in line with the Commission’s original proposal.

The amount to finance the liquidity support measure should be limited to 2% of the EU envelope for rural development programmes in each member state, up from 1% initially proposed by the EU Commission.

MEPs also decided to give member states more time to release the support. They extended the 31 December 2020 deadline for payments until 30 June 2021, but applications for support will have to be approved by the competent authorities before 31 December 2020.

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