A new association has been formed for farmers who are members of Tir Gofal, the Welsh Assembly’s flagship agri-environment scheme.

Cymdeithas Amaethwyr Tir Gofal, aims to lobby the Assembly and the Countryside Council for Wales, the scheme’s administrators, for the best possible deal.

It will hold its inaugural open meeting at Welshpool in Powys on May 23.

“While other farming organisations have to represent the whole cross-section of farmers, our aim is to be very focused on farms that have shown commitment to the countryside and biodiversity by joining Tir Gofal,” said chairman Simon Spencer.

“The Welsh Assembly government’s decision to cut the payment rates has shown their lack of commitment to a scheme that is held up as one of the best in Europe.

“We want more farmers to be able to join the scheme if they wish. It is unacceptable that the last application window closed two years ago.”

If the group gets sufficient support it hopes to launch a new value adding marketing label, which will highlight the use of good environmental practice on members’ farms.

It claims strong support from Welsh wildlife organisations.

Membership costs £20 a year and further information is available by contacting tirgofalfarmers@googlemail.com