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Tir Gofal

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Carwyn Jones, Minister for Rural Affairs
Tir Gofal is the Welsh Assembly Government’s agri-environmental programme, which pays farmers to improve the environmental and ecological value of their land. The popularity of Tir Gofal was demonstrated in the latest application round, when some 1200 people applied to enter the programme- a very substantial increase on the previous round. Of the 1200 applicants, some 1100 scored above the quality threshold to merit entry . This greatly exceeded the planned budgetary provision.

It is important to see the funding pressure on Tir Gofal in context. Tir Gofal is funded under Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy( CAP)  – rural development – in contrast to Pillar 1 , which covers farm production subsidies. Currently, Pillar 1 accounts for 90% of the CAP expenditure in the European Union, and Pillar 2 for 10%. The direction of evolution of the CAP is clear: the balance of expenditure will move over time so that there is a better balance between Pillar 1 and Pillar 2, so that more money can be spent on rural development, including agri-environmental schemes such as Tir Gofal.

It will, however, take some time to change the present balance.  Funding for Tir Gofal is therefore likely to remain under pressure while the CAP evolves. In line with our objective to make Welsh farming fit for the future, I am extremely pleased to announce today that the Welsh Assembly Government is committing an additional £ 1.5 million a year from its own resources to help address the current demand for the programme. This represents an increase of 11 per cent in the previously planned budget for 2002-2003. It should enable the Countryside Commission for Wales to enable the current applicants for the programme to enter Tir Gofal later this year or during the course of 2003. This demonstrates our commitment to the programme, and to the future of farming in Wales.