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Cross Compliance Latest

The latest DEFRA guidance on SPS Cross Compliance (March 2007)

Key Messages

Cross compliance forms a key and non-discretionary part of the CAP Reform and helps implement the Department's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food. 

                     It puts in place a new baseline standard for agriculture that all Single  Payment applicants must meet from 1 January 2005. 

                     There are two key elements of cross compliance that farmers must meet in return for 1.5bn of public money annually:

              Standards of good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC) relate to the protection and maintenance of soils, habitats and landscape features. Member States have some, limited discretion in setting these;

              Statutory management requirements (SMRs) comprise a number of articles from 19 EU Directives and Regulations applicable to farmers. They are set by the EU, apply to all Member States, and cover the environment, public, plant and animal health and, from January 2007, animal welfare. They are subject to a rolling introduction ending in 2007.

                     We are obliged to inspect a 1% sample of farmers to ensure that they are meeting the standards. This has been very largely devolved to the RPA, working closely with specialist agencies e.g. Environment Agency, State Veterinary Service & Veterinary Medicine Directorate where necessary.


1.             Implementing the 2003 reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is central to England's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food. Farmers will have greater freedom to farm to meet the demands of the market as subsidies will be decoupled from production.  At the same time, all claimants will have to meet a new baseline standard for agriculture (known as cross compliance) which contributes to a range of departmental objectives such as improving compliance with environmental standards, public and animal health and animal welfare standards and promoting other aspects of good farming practice.  Standards have been set for England with a parallel process being undertaken in the Devolved Administrations.

 2.                   The cross compliance provisions fall under two distinct headings: Statutory Management Requirements (SMR) and Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) standards.  The SMRs comprise a selected number of articles from 19 EU Directives and Regulations which are applicable to farmers.  They cover environmental, public, plant and animal health (including identification and registration of animals) and from 2007, animal welfare objectives.  Member States have no flexibility over the introduction of the SMRs, and the first tranche dealing with environmental and animal identification and registration legislation came into force on 1st January 2005 and the second trance covering public, animal and plant health, and notification of came into force in January 2006.   

3.                   In January 2007 a further three SMRs covering animal welfare came into force. Details of these SMRs were published in a supplement to the cross compliance handbook which was circulated to all farmers towards the end of last year.

4.                   Where farmers fail to meet cross compliance standards, their direct payments will be subject to reduction or exclusion according to the severity of the failure, as required by the EC Regulations.

5.                   Member States do have some limited flexibility to define GAEC standards within a framework set out in the Council Regulation. This offers some scope for national or regional discretion, but this is limited to the setting of requirements which avoid land abandonment, protect soils and maintain habitats (PRoWs are included under this).

6.                   The new GAEC standards have been developed in close liaison with the industry and stakeholders including a full public consultation, and set simple, common sense standards for farming practice. Many of them reinforce existing law or codify existing guidance but some do deal with new topics that have not been traditionally regulated e.g. the management of soil.

7.                   The Member States are also required to monitor and maintain 2003 levels  of permanent pasture.  In the unlikely event that there is a large conversion of pasture to other crops, we will be required to introduce a control.

David Rigal
Senior Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advisor
SASD Farming Management Team, Defra


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