Cross-compliance event: summary
Cross-compliance is a new and emerging issue. But do you know what it is all about? If you asked most farmers they would probably associate it with on-farm inspections. I believe that it is vital that we understand the reasons why such inspections are necessary. In other words, we must all have a clear understanding of what Cross-compliance is all about.
Payments to farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – which includes SFP (Single Farm Payment), DAS (Disadvantaged Areas Scheme) and REPS - are now dependent on the achievement and maintenance of baseline standards on environmental and public health, animal and plant health, and animal welfare – otherwise known as Cross-compliance. These are legal requirements and all farmers must comply with all legislation affecting their business.
These direct payments are worth €1.87 billion approximately to Ireland. In 2008, total DAFF payments to Donegal farmers amounted to €144m or almost €16,000 per farm. So it is in all our interests to ensure that we comply with the EU legal requirements and ensure that these payments are not reduced through penalties for non-compliance. Nobody wants to see this happening.
You are all aware of the benefits flowing from the ‘clean green’ image which our food industry has. This image together with our adherence to quality in food production has stood Irish agriculture well over the years. Previously the requirement to adhere to these practices was voluntary; Cross-compliance means that this requirement is now statutory. Many of the requirements are being met in how we normally carry on our farming activities. However there are some areas that may need the attention of farmers.
There are two key elements to Cross-compliance: Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) and Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC). SMRs refer to a range of 18 European regulatory requirements covering environmental, public health, plant health and animal health and welfare standards. Farmers are more aware of some of these than others e.g. SMR4 is the Nitrates Directive. SMRs have been in place on a phased basis in Ireland since 1st January 2005. In addition to meeting the SMR requirements farmers are expected to keep their land in good agricultural and environmental condition.
Regarding inspections, two types of inspection can be carried out. They are (1) Eligibility inspections and (2) Cross-compliance inspections. 5% of farmers annually are subjected to an eligibility inspection (450 farmers in Donegal). About two-thirds of these checks are carried out by way of remote sensing (satellite technology) without the need for an on-farm visit. Some 1,350 farmers (or 1% of applicants) are inspected annually under all SMRs that are applicable to them. They are also checked for compliance with GAEC.
Inspections are ongoing in the county at present. To date it has been found that the majority of Cross-compliance penalties imposed resulted from non-compliance with the cattle identification and registration and nitrates requirements. Information is not available on the percentage of farms which pass their Cross-compliance inspection with no penalties.
For further information on Cross-compliance you should contact your local Teagasc Adviser.