The Rural White Paper Action Plan is the outcome of an Executive initiative led by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development which aims to identify and address the key issues and challenges facing rural areas.
The DARD Rural Strategy 2007-2013 sought to provide a strategic framework for rural development policy and to facilitate a more co-ordinated and co-operative approach to rural development over the period 2007-2013.
While the DARD Rural Strategy focussed on DARD’s role in relation to rural policy, the Programme for Government 2007-2011 contained a commitment to obtain approval from the Executive for the development of a Rural White Paper. It was recognised that while DARD had responsibility for rural development, other government departments had functions in respect of rural areas and therefore other departments would be required to contribute to the development of the Rural White Paper.
The Executive approved proposals for a thematic approach to the development of the Rural White Paper in July 2009 following which a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) was established to assist with the development of the Rural White Paper. The Group reported back to DARD in early 2010 following which its recommendations were considered
by DARD and the other Departments and presented to the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.
Following the completion of the stakeholder work, DARD worked with other Departments to agree realistic and meaningful proposals for inclusion in the Rural White Paper Action Plan. In parallel with this process the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development undertook a series of bi-lateral meetings with Ministerial colleagues to ensure high level support for the proposals.
The result of this intensive work by all involved is this Rural White Paper Action Plan which sets out the vision for our rural areas and the actions which Departments will take in support of achieving that vision and to help ensure the future sustainability of rural areas.