Support: Federal Rural Development Scheme
One goal of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture is to maintain rural areas as attractive and vibrant country regions. The Federal Rural Development Scheme is an instrument to achieve these goals.
Around half of Germany's inhabitants are living in rural areas. For them, the rural areas comprising just under 90 per cent of the German territory are not only recreation areas of unspoiled nature, but also their living environment and their place of work.
One major objective of the Federal Government is to create and maintain attractive, liveable and vibrant rural regions. In the coalition agreement, the Federal Government advocates equivalent living conditions in cities and rural areas. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture assumes this responsibility and supports rural regions. The new "Federal Rural Development Scheme" (BULE) is one BMEL instrument to shape rural areas in a sustainable manner. On 29 October 2014, Federal Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt introduced the core principles of the national scheme for the first time.
Contents of the Federal Rural Development Scheme
The Federal Rural Development Scheme aims at testing and supporting innovative rural development strategies. Its role is to contribute to keeping local communities in rural regions attractive and to support structurally disadvantaged regions. It hence also makes a contribution to implementing the Federal Government's Demographics Strategy . Model and demonstration projects as well as competitions put the focus on non-farm projects. The National Programme includes four modules:
Module 1 – Model and demonstration projects in central future-oriented areas of rural development
Model and demonstration projects on rural development are intended to develop innovative, future-oriented strategies and solution concepts for specific issues, to verify their practicability and to promote them throughout the country. The experience gathered during the model project period is evaluated by scientists to derive universally valid conclusions and recommendations for the future design of rural development policies.
The BMEL gives rural development stakeholders the opportunity to propose innovative solution concepts and new methodologies as well as projects on specific subject matters. Following a successful verification of the innovative character of the submitted proposals, aid may be granted for promising projects and implementation may be started.
The BMEL's intention is to thus identify innovative solution concepts, which can, i.a., refer to the following thematic clusters:
- Securing basic services and support for regionality, for instance by finding innovative solutions for a better supply of rural residents or new initiatives to strengthen regional stakeholders
- Improving inner and social development, for instance by novel approaches to deal with vacancy rates or for better housing and living conditions for young and old people in the countryside
- Strengthening structures needed by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), for instance by special business networks and/or outstanding strategies for further developing cooperative approaches
- New forms of rural culture for a vibrant cultural life in rural regions
- Giving shape to change, for instance by designing new methods to accompany change processes in rural areas and to take full advantage of the existing potential.
Module 2 - Model project "Land(auf)Schwung" ("Rural upswing")
The new model project "Land(auf)Schwung" is a measure aimed at structurally disadvantaged rural areas. It addresses entrepreneurial people on the ground who decide themselves about innovative ideas and their implementation in the region on the basis of a regional budget. It is planned to support structurally disadvantaged rural regions in dealing actively with demographic change on the ground, in increasing regional value-added, in securing rural employment and hence also in shaping the shrinking process.
39 rural districts were identified for the initial qualification phase. The structurally disadvantaged regions were selected on the basis of an index consisting of 37 indicators developed by the Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute dealing with rural areas. In addition to demographic data, they also reflect the availability of basic public services and the structural weaknesses in the economy.
The kick-off event of the model project "Land(auf)Schwung" was held in Berlin on 2 December 2014.
Module 3 – Competitions
Good examples of agricultural development projects can be particularly rewarded by competitions. The BMEL will expand its support for the competitions "Kerniges Dorf" (Robust village) and "Our village has a future".
The competition "Robust village!" of the Socio-Agricultural Society honours exemplary ideas and strategies for inner development in communities or boroughs with up to 5,000 inhabitants. For the federal decision in 2016, the federal competition "Our village has a future" will be extended to include two special awards "Demography" and "Services of general interest". This way, the BMEL also makes another contribution to implementing the Federal Government's Demographics Strategy.
Module 4 – Research and knowledge transfer
It is planned to pool the findings on the development of rural areas and make them available on a research platform. In addition, it is planned to support further research activities in the field of rural development.
The sustainable development in rural regions and hence more quality of life for people living in rural areas require close consultations between all stakeholders, that is citizens, associations and representatives from politics and business. The BMEL starts to hold townhall meetings with the citizens in 2015 to reflect the citizens' policy ideas for an integrated rural development.
- As of:
- Understanding Farming - Facts and figures about German farming (PDF, 5 MB, accessible)
- German Agriculture - Facts and Figures (PDF, 3 MB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- The German Federal Government Agriculture Report, 2011 (PDF, 3 MB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- Map Agriculture and Forestries in Germany (jpg, 409 KB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- Agricultural products in Germany at a glance (infographics)