Part of Agriculture and Rural Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 15 March 2011.

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Photo of Michelle Gildernew Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin 2:15, 15 March 2011

Unfortunately, under axis 3 of the rural development programme, we cannot fund anything that is associated with agricultural production. However, under measure 3.1 of the rural development programme, farm diversification, farm families who wish to diversify into tourism can avail themselves of funding to develop non-production-related infrastructure such as, for example, self-catering units or activity-based tourism, and, in doing so, provide activities and accommodation that could complement a wider tourism project.

As I said previously in the House, the work that is ongoing through the rural development programme is delivering the tourism infrastructure that will help rural communities to provide a better tourism offering in the future. Agritourism and social farming are innovative ways of increasing the farm family income. My officials are examining whether those farming innovations could be supported by my Department and how it can do so.