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:

  • From 1 July onwards financing can be requested within the Province of Zeeland for physical investments in infrastructure for the development, modernization, or adaptation of agricultural businesses. Funding can be requested, both for the development of support and for the improvement of the parceling structure of agricultural businesses, or a combination thereof (deadline 1 September 2022);
  • Friesland offers support for the provision of training, workshops, and coaching to groups of farmers (from 14 June onwards).
  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.

  • In the province of Flevoland, from June 6 onwards financing can be requested for Non-productive Investments in biodiversity, nature, landscape and hydrological measures Nitrogen in the context of fish migration (deadline 8 July 2022).
  1. 3. 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. 


  1. 4. 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.

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);
  • 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). On 1 January 2022, the programme reopens with a new total budget of €826,000. The grant comprises 50% of eligible costs. Projects should be between € 30,000 and € 120,000 (deadline 31 December 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). 
  • 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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