Application packs for the Welsh sustainable land management scheme have begun to arrive on the doormats of 15,000 farmers in Wales.
According to the Welsh Assembly Government, all but 3000 of the farmers eligible for 2010 single farm payments have expressed an interest in joining the Glastir scheme.
Farmers now have until 22 November to return completed forms with the scheme due to start in January 2012, an assembly government official said.
Extensive support arrangements, including on-farm training, have been put in place to guide farmers through the application process, with a series of Glastir “surgeries” to be held across Wales, starting in the week beginning 11 October.
The assembly government has urged farmers to consider carefully what Glastir has to offer and to attend the surgeries and other events to help them make an informed decision on whether to apply to join the scheme.
The “All-Wales” element of Glastir is intended to provide an entry-level land management scheme allowing larger numbers of farmers and greater areas of farmland to be brought under land management than existing agri-environment schemes.
However, sections of the farming community remain unconvinced, claiming that a complex system of points allocation would leave many farmers short of the number they needed to join.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales’ land use and parliamentary committee chairman, Richard Vaughan, said that despite serious misgivings about aspects of Glastir, including the lack of information available on the “Targeted Element” of the scheme, the union was encouraging farmers to look carefully at their options.
Mr Vaughan said that this would avoid farmers being disadvantaged at a later stage when details of the Targeted Element became clearer.
“Farmers should take advantage of the Glastir surgeries to fully assess the implications of the scheme on their businesses and to consider specialist help if they are unsure of their ability to qualify,” said Mr Vaughan.