POP3+: Rural Development Programme Extended

Hollands landschap - POP3

Adding up: Transition Period 2021-2022

The rural development programme POP focuses on the development, sustainability, and innovation of the Dutch agricultural sector, in line with the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the National Strategic Plan (NSP).

The year 2020 marked the conclusion of the current CAP. The new CAP will not be implemented until early 2023. In order to bridge this transition period, the existing POP3 programma has been extended. Several new grant programmes will be opened in the years 2021 and 2022 under the name POP3+.

Regional Grant Programmes: Themes

The POP3+ programmes are implemented by the provinces and cover the following themes:

  • Strengthening innovation, sustainability, and competitiveness
  • Young farmers
  • Nature and landscape
  • Improving water quality
  • LEADER (strengthening rural areas)

Theme 2 (young farmers) is intended for young agrarian entrepreneurs who want to improve the sustainability of, and make investments in, their businesses, for example during the succession of their farm. These concern relatively small contributions of up to €20,000. In what follows, we will discuss themes 1, 3, 4, and 5 in more detail.

Target Groups

Potential applicants for themes 1, 3, 4, and 5 are:

  • Agricultural entrepreneurs
  • Landowners and users
  • Agricultural organisations
  • Nature and landscape organisations
  • Provincial governments
  • Water Boards
  • Municipalities
  • Partnerships between the abovementioned parties


Whilst each programme has its own specific conditions, the following general conditions apply:

  • The applicant falls under one of the above target groups.
  • The application provides a description of the activities/investments to be carried out; a budget, including explanation; and a financing plan.
  • In addition, the necessity, objectives, implementation, and intended results of the project are described in a project plan.
  • In general, a minimum project size of €200,000 applies.
  • For most programmes, 100% of eligible costs are subsidised.
  • General evaluation criteria are effectiveness, feasibility, efficiency, and urgency.

The total grant, as well as specific eligible costs and project activities, differ per scheme. Below, we provide a brief overview of the possible activities per theme. In addition, we provide an overview of the programmes per province for which you can currently apply.  


  1. 1. Strengthening Innovation, Sustainability, and Competitiveness

  2. This subsidy supports investments in rural areas that contribute to sustainability and greening. Cooperation between farmers, water boards, and knowledge institutions is encouraged, working together on innovation and making agriculture more sustainable.

The focus differs per province:

  • Noord-Brabant focuses on innovative concepts for the transition towards agrofood and rural development (closed);
  • South Holland is looking to support innovations that make agriculture in the Krimpenerwaard region more sustainable, with a specific focus on land-based agriculture and dairy cattle (closed);
  • Overijssel offers a subsidy for the development of infrastructure, modernisation, and adaptation of agricultural businesses (deadline 2 July);
  • Gelderland is making four very specific schemes available, each focusing on a specific segment of agriculture (Relocation of glasshouse farms, (closed); Professionalisation of short chains, 20 May; Innovative concepts, (closed); Innovative calf stalls, 12 July);
  • Flevoland is expected to open a new scheme with a focus on physical investments;
  • Zeeland will publish the Investment Scheme for Green Economic Recovery and the Cooperation Scheme for Green Economic Recovery around mid-2021;
  • Utrecht will support demonstrations, training courses, workshops, and coaching for agricultural entrepreneurs around the themes of added value strategy, reduced use of raw materials and a closed cycle, climate mitigation, biodiversity, and environmental quality (deadline 13 August).
  • Friesland offers support for the provision of training, workshops, and coaching to groups of farmers (from 14 June onwards).
  • Friesland also supports demonstrations, trainings, workshops, and coaching to farmers with regard to the themes of value-added strategy, production risks, raw material use, climate mitigation, climate adaptation, animal welfare, and biodiversity (deadline 16 September).
  • Noord-Holland will shortly publish a new grant programme for the relocation of glasshouse horticulture and supports cooperation for European Innovation Partnerships (deadline is yet to be announced).
  1. 2. Nature and Landscape

The subsidies covered here relate to non-productive investments in nature restoration and realisation.

The programmes under this theme differ for each province. Some provinces publish a broader call, whilst others have designated a number of specific areas within which the proposed measures can take place.

  • Overijssel is accepting proposals for investments that counteract nitrogen deposition within the Natura 2000 network (deadline 18 June);
  • Zuid-Holland is specifically looking for projects that deal with nature recovery in the Krimpenwaard (open from 7 June; deadline 8 July);
  • Drenthe offers subsidy for restoration and development measures (deadline 18 June);
  • Flevoland expects to publish a new programme under this theme soon;
  • Friesland finances investments aimed at strengthening nature quality and biodiversity in the nature areas of Natuurnetwerk Nederland (deadline 16 July).
  • Groningen supports projects that are aimed towards strengthening biodiversity, amongst others by increasing water levels and creating wetlands, specifically within or for the benefit of nature reserve Dwarsdiep (deadline 30 July).
  1. 4. Improving Water Quality

Grants that fall within this theme also relate to non-productive investments. This programme is ideally suited for activities with the primary aim of improving nature and environmental values.

Eligible activities relate to the (re)design or transformation and management of the water system for agricultural, water, and climate purposes. Activities should also contribute to the Water Framework Directive (WFD) goals. Currently, you can apply for a total of five programmes:

  • Friesland focuses on widening and/or nature-friendly design of WFD main water courses, storage channels; construction or design of WFD lakes or ponds; fish passages; and climate measures (deadline 15 July);
  • Zuid-Holland focuses on the realisation of nature-friendly banks and measures to combat subsidence in four selected water boards (deadline 17 July);
  • Zeeland offers subsidies for the (re)design, adjustment, and/or management of the water system for agricultural, water, and climate purposes (deadline 30 July);
  • Overijssel has a similar focus as Zeeland, but does so in a total of four, pre-selected waters within the province (deadline 30 July);
  • Gelderland accepts proposals for non-productive investments water WFD/EFF (ecological zones) and climate adaptation (deadline 4 October).
  • Noord-Holland will shortly publish a new grant programme for non-productive investments in water (deadline is yet to be announced).
  1. 5. LEADER (Strengthening Rural Areas)

The common goal of all LEADER projects is to support cooperation between different parties—farmers, entrepreneurs, water boards, local authorities, knowledge institutions, etc.—in order to stimulate the strengthening of rural areas. The focus of the various programmes differ per province.

Some provinces encourage cooperation in general around certain themes:

  • The North Holland KOPKRACHT, which is no longer open for submissions, focused on the broader themes of Anticipating demographic developments; Circular economy, bio-based economy and sustainable energy; and (Agro)tourism infrastructure.
  • Limburg is looking to support cooperative ventures that are willing to work on an innovation task. These are projects that answer a concrete question or opportunity from within a practical context, with the aim of bringing it closer to reality (closed).

Whilst, other provinces have selected specific municipalities or areas in which activities can take place:

  • Zeeland currently has two schemes, one for central and northern Zeeland; and one for Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (deadline 31 December 2022);
  • Overijssel has four schemes, for the areas of Zuidwest Twente; Salland; Noordoost Twente; and Noord Overijssel (deadline 31 December 2022);
  • Zuid-Holland has two schemes: Rijnland and Polders with Values (deadline November 2022);
  • Drenthe currently has four schemes aimed at increasing liveability and a stronger economy in a number of selected municipalities (deadline 25 October 2021);
  • Oost-Groningen focuses on liveability and a stronger economy (deadline 24 February 2022);
  • Utrecht has three schemes related to innovative initiatives within the rural economy, called Weidse Veenweiden; Utrecht Oost; and Polders met Waarden in Vijfheerenlanden (deadline 31 December 2022);
  • Gelderland currently has 2 schemes, namely Achterhoek implementation and Achterhoek cooperation activities (deadline 1 January 2022);
  • Friesland offers financing for the costs of cooperation between Local Action Groups for the implementation of the LEADER Development Strategies (deadline 15 December 2022). In addition, there are two new LEADER programmes, specifically aimed at the regions of North East and Noardwest Friesland (deadline 20 October).
  • Limburg funds projects that implement the Local Development Strategy (LOS) for the National Landscape of South Limburg (deadline 31 December 2022).

Identifying Opportunities?

As the above overview demonstrates, POP3+ offers a wide range of opportunities. To help you identify those opportunities that are most relevant for you, we give the following suggestions.

AmbitionPOP3+ theme
Investing in sustainability and greening, as well as economic growthTheme 1
Non-productive investments in nature realisation and restorationTheme 3
Non-productive investments in water qualityTheme 4
Bringing innovative ideas closer to the market in collaboration with other partnersTheme 5

Do you have an innovative concept or investment that might be eligible for POP3+? Or are you planning to implement nature restoration measures in one of the above provinces? Then contact us today to explore the possibilities.


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