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Cross Compliance Standard Suspended to Help Flood Affected Farmers 11/07/07

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has suspended a cross compliance standard to enable farmers to use mechanical equipment and vehicles on waterlogged soil and access their crops.

maize harvest

The Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition standard, GAEC 3, prohibits farmers from carrying out mechanical operations and using motorised vehicles on waterlogged soil. The standard was put in place to protect soils from compaction and structural damage caused by using vehicles when the soil is too wet.

The Environment Secretary has the power to vary or suspend the requirement in periods of exceptional weather conditions.

In view of the recent weather conditions and flooding in some parts of the country, Mr Benn has temporarily suspended the requirement until 31 July 2007 (subject to review).

Mr Benn was at the Great Yorkshire yesterday and listened to a number of concerns raised by farmers affected by the recent weather in the region. These concerns centered around the difficulties posed by GAEC 3, after which the Environment Secretary instructed the department to temporarily suspend the restrictions.

Mr Benn said:

‘At the Great Yorkshire Show yesterday the farmers and NFU representatives I met raised with me the problems caused by the prohibition on using machinery on waterlogged soil after the recent exceptional rainfall. I have looked at this overnight and decided to lift this restriction until the end of the month. I hope this will help farmers who have been badly affected’.

Notes:

  1. Cross compliance forms a key and non-discretionary part of the CAP Reform and puts in place a baseline standard for farming. It comprises two elements: Statutory Management Requirements, and standards of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC).
  2. GAEC standards relate to the protection of soils and maintenance of habitat and landscape features characteristic of the English countryside. GAEC 3 prohibits farmers from carrying out mechanical field operations or using motorised vehicles on waterlogged soils. The standard was put in place to protect soils from compaction and structural damage caused by using vehicles when the soil is too wet.
  3. Cross compliance applies to all farmers claiming direct payments including the Single Payment and, as of 2007, claimants for new land based Pillar II Rural Development schemes.
  4. The Cross Compliance Handbook and supporting guidance can be found on the RPA website at: www.rpa.gov.uk/
  5. A cross compliance advice helpline is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Agents can answer technical questions on cross compliance or tell you where to get the help you need. Cross Compliance Advice Helpline - 0845 345 1302. www.crosscompliance.org.uk

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