THE WELSH Assembly will not introduce a national envelope as part of its CAP reform package.

“The use of an envelope would pose additional administrative burdens at farm level inconsistent with the simplification of farm payments that is at the heart of CAP reform,” said Carwyn Jones, rural affairs minister.

But Welsh farmers will get a new entry-level agri-environment scheme called Tir Cynnal (Land Support).

This will be designed to protect wildlife habitats, traditional landscapes, ancient monuments and historic features.

Farmers will find it easier to qualify for the scheme than others already operating, said Mr Jones.

The plan is to bring in the 60% of agricultural land that is not already in an agri-environment scheme.

It will cost £20m/year to run, half of which will be raised through modulation, and will open for applications next spring. Before that it will be tested in two pilot areas.

Mr Jones said he was delighted that the Treasury would pay half the running costs.

But he admitted that Wales would still need to modulate CAP payments by 10% by 2006 if the take-up of Tir Cynnal reached expectations. 

The Farmers Union of Wales welcomed the new scheme but claimed the modulation rate would hit smaller family farms hard.

“It is interesting that in February 2002 Mr Jones said that 10% modulation would not be acceptable in Wales,” a spokesman said.