I 'appeared' on Radio Wales and Radio Cymru this morning to talk about Wales' flagship agri-environment scheme. Wales' Auditor General, Jeremy Coleman published his report today into how Tir Gofal is being managed. I was wearing my non political hat as President of CPRW - so no politics! Even so, I would like to have found a stick with which to beat the Government - if only to raise the profile of my contribution. But to be honest, I couldn't really come up with anything - which is not to say that anything doesn't exist. Its just that its a job for AMs when they discuss this with Minister Elin Jones next week. The two areas where criticism might be appropriate is whether incorporating the management of Tir Gofal into the Assembly Government last year has led to any increase in the proportion of the budget going into administration, or whether it has led to a poorer delivery. This morning's programme suggested there might be an issue here. One for Brynle to get his teeth into.
Today's Report said that there was a need to consider sustainability of the accepted improvements in farming practice - obvious in a scheme which is based on 10 year contracts. It also called for improved evaluation which sounds sensible. And then there is the inevitable need to introduce scope for change and flexibility in the operation of Tir Gofal - inevitable because its being going for 8 years and things move on.
I was on Good Morning Wales with Gareth Vaughan of the FUW - and chatting afterwards, (he's a good and old friend) we both agreed that Tir Gofal is a valuable scheme which is likely to be the most acceptable way of supporting farming to the taxpayer. I think we both feel that the future of agri-environment schemes is hugely important to farming - but that there wasn't much 'meat' in today's story. Nonetheless, I'm grateful for the publicity!! Odd thing is that I had 5 farmers telephone me on the back of the programme - almost as if I was still an AM. Two of them were from Ceredigion, where there local AM is the Minister. At least it keeps me in touch.