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    CLA Questions Whether It's Worth Applying for Tir Gofal

CLA Wales says the present structure of the Tir Gofal scheme means many landowners and farmers will question the value of joining the scheme. And it urges the Welsh Assembly Government to pay a realistic sum for conservation.


Altruism has a price! It must make economic sense in addition to environmental benefit if the business is to prosper. The present ‘profit foregone’ principal on which payments are based does not encourage economic practice.

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair CLA Wales Director Julian Salmon says that for agri- environment schemes to be effective in Wales they need to provide farmers with a living. CLA lobbying means that despite threatened cuts, Tir Gofal rates have been held at 1999 levels with no increases to reflect cost inflation.

"We're now advising our members to ask themselves whether it is worth going into the Tir Gofal Scheme", he adds. "The new packs have just been sent out to farmers and we're told there is a restriction in that only seven hundred and fifty can be accepted on to this next stage. Countryside Minister, Carwyn Jones, has already received 600 applications and will be closing the window on 30th November.

"This will undoubtedly put pressure on farmers to rush in their applications. But while we feel that people have nothing to lose in making the initial application, they do need to study the pack very carefully before committing and signing the agreement.

"The biggest losers are the farmers who were environmentally aware and entered into agri-environment schemes in the early years. They now find themselves with lower Single Farm Payments than their neighbours who are considering agri- environment for the first time.

"Also losing out are those who are unfortunate enough to be custodians of the most important conservation areas in Wales. They have land which has been designated SSSI and SAC and now find that there is little funding available for Section 15 management agreements to preserve and enhance these areas."

Mr Salmon conceded that following CLA lobbying for financial support for SSSIs the current Tir Gofal application window does give some precedence to designated sites, but only 10 points. But he said it was difficult to meet the 100 point score threshold on the whole farm if good conservation status had already been achieved.

"Clearly this does little to boost confidence that WAG are committed to sustainable agriculture through agri-environment", he points out.

And CLA are issuing a five point guide to members applying for Tir Gofal:

  • Read the application pack as there are proscriptions in the whole farm section as well as the chosen options which will have a big impact on the management of your farm.
  • Be proactive in deciding on the elements to be included in your management plan as you will have to adhere to these for the next five if not ten years.
  • Once the plan is returned to you, calculate the real cost, especially labour, of implementing the plan. It will be cost effective only on those farms where the plan fits in with the day to day management. If great changes have to be made it is imperative that you calculate not only the loss in income but the loss in flexibility and potential income.
  • Consider whether there are other ways of increasing profitability and will the payments you are signing up for now be adequate to keep the farm viable for the next five years, as the rates are unlikely to increase.
  • Bear in mind the additional risk that if you create wonderful conservation habitat through Tir Gofal which results in parts of your farm being designated as an SSSI, you will be required to retain the conservation features of the site without any financial assistance, and what’s more, you are open to prosecution should you do anything which is perceived to damage the habitat.


Tir Gofal is a whole farm agri-environment scheme which has been available throughout Wales since April 1999. The Scheme aims to encourage agricultural practices which will protect and enhance the landscapes of Wales, their cultural features and associated wildlife.

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