I attended one of the earliest events at the beginning of August, but they have been taking place across Wales throughout August and will continue until the end of September, so there is plenty of opportunity to attend another session. Dates of the remaining sessions can be found on the Welsh Government website.
Although the events are aimed at farmers who expressed an interest in the All Wales element of Glastir on the 2011 Single Application Form and are designed to help them familiarise themselves with the scheme, they are open to all those with an interest in Glastir. The afternoon started with a presentation from Welsh Government officials before the other participants went on a farm walk to see live examples of the sorts of activity that will be part of Glastir.
I found the presentation, which included information on all aspects of the scheme from habitat identification and management, to creation and maintenance of field and woodland edge and farm ponds, very interesting and I am sure the information will prove very valuable to the farmers who attended when they are going through the Glastir application process this winter. The session was very friendly and informal and there was plenty of opportunity for people to ask questions so I can certainly recommend sparing a few hours to go along.
Glastir marks a major change in our approach to land management in Wales, and it is no secret that it has not been universally welcomed by the farming industry. The review of the scheme that was conducted last year made a number of recommendations most of which were accepted by my predecessor and will be implemented, but I am committed to continuing with the scheme. We will monitor it closely throughout the application window and the early days of the scheme and adapt it if necessary, but Glastir is here to stay.
I firmly believe that sustainable land management and food production are not mutually exclusive and that it is possible to do both. With the current environmental challenges that face us, not to mention the requirements placed upon us by the CAP, we all have to adapt and make changes to the way we work. This will be increasingly important with the inevitable changes to CAP and the greening requirements they will bring. Glastir will help farmers to do this by providing funding to farmers to manage their land in ways that address challenges relating to climate change, carbon capture, water management and biodiversity.