Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones has announced a shift in approach to land management schemes in Wales. From 2012, the five existing agri-environment schemes will be replaced by one scheme, Glastir, which is better positioned to meet current and future environmental challenges.
Yesterday’s announcement meets the One Wales commitment to undertake a review of programmes under Axis 2 of the Rural Development Plan. The five existing schemes are Tir Gofal, Tir Cynnal, Tir Mynydd, the Organic Farming Scheme and the Better Woodlands for Wales scheme.
Elin Jones said:
“The aim of this review is to ensure the money available is spent in the best possible way to meet current and future environmental objectives, in particular the challenges presented by climate change.
“My decision to go ahead with one all-encompassing scheme will mean a reduction in red tape for farmers, lower administration costs, and greater environmental benefits.
“The current schemes have been effective, but were designed in a different context. The land management scheme for the coming decade must respond to the challenges of climate change, water management and bio-diversity, as set out in last year’s CAP Health Check Agenda. Glastir will help us to do just that. We are shifting to a culture in which farmers are paid for providing environmental goods and services.
“The new scheme must support a sustainable agricultural industry, with the family farm at its centre. Spend forecast for our land management schemes for 2012 and 2013 is £89 million per annum and this level of farm payments will be maintained under Glastir. The change in approach does not affect the amount of money available; it means that the money will be better spent.
“There will no longer be a dedicated measure for the Less Favoured Area (LFA) under Glastir, but there will be a 20% premium for all LFA farmers entering the first tier of the new scheme. This includes dairy farmers, who are currently excluded from receiving LFA payments. I am still considering the integration of the Organics scheme into Glastir and I will be making a further announcement in due course."
As a consequence of today’s announcement Tir Gofal and Tir Cynnal schemes will close to new entrants with immediate effect. Those farmers who are in the process of negotiating a management agreement or have received an initial farm visit will have their applications processed.
The last Tir Mynydd payment will be in 2011.
Transitional relief will be in place to bridge the gap between the closure of existing schemes and the opening of the new scheme.
The delivery of the new land management arrangements is subject to agreement with the European Commission. A formal proposal will be submitted to the Commission next month.
The Rural Affairs Minister said:
“Glastir marks a major change. Farmers produce food and manage the land and they do so for their own commercial benefit and for the good of wider society. Glastir will pay farmers to manage the land in a way that will meet many of the priorities of today’s society.”