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.
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.
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
he points out.
And CLA are issuing a five point guide to members applying for
- 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
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