Review 2011: Glastir’s turbulent year

Wales’ controversial new environmental management scheme Glastir has had another turbulent year.

The year started with fewer than 3,000 farmers signing up to join the scheme.

This was swiftly followed by an announcement by the then rural affairs minister Elin Jones that an independent review would be established to see what could be done to make Glastir more attractive and accessible to farmers.

That review led to sweeping changes. Not only did the application process get a complete overhaul to make it more farmer-friendly, but parts of the original scheme were changed too.

One of the most significant modifications centred on the number of points farmers needed to enter the scheme. The Welsh government halved it to 14.

Then came another major boost following negotiations between the Welsh government and the European Commission. Payment rates were increased by £6 per hectare to £34. Farmers joining at the reduced entry level will see their payments rise from £14/ha to £17/ha.

But there were losers. The Welsh government announced it would be abolishing the Less Favoured Area payment uplift, resulting in farmers in these areas losing 20% of their subsidy.

This will affect nearly 80% of agricultural land in Wales and means that for the first time in more than 60 years Wales will have no scheme specific for areas with more challenging farming conditions.

• Read our special report on CAP reform

• Read more from our Review of the Year 2011