New Guide to Cross Compliance for 2016

With the New Year came a new set of rules and standards from DEFRA in the form of 'A Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2016'.

This year there will be no printed copy of this document, but instead farmers and landowners can download a copy at GOV.UK. For anyone claiming this year under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), or with a stewardship scheme or in the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS, compliance with these new regulations is essential if they are to safeguard their payments.


There are a number of changes to the cross compliance rules since last year and these include:

GAEC 1 - Establishment of buffer strips along watercourses

From 1 January 2017, land parcels of two hectares or less next to watercourses must comply with the need to protect watercourses against pollution and run-off from agricultural sources, by maintaining buffer strips. For all land within 2m of the centre of a watercourse or field ditch or from the edge of the watercourse or field ditch to 1 meter on the landward side of the top of the bank - both of the following apply:

- you must take all reasonable steps to maintain a green cover

- you must not cultivate or apply fertilisers or pesticides.

GAEC 7c - Trees

The RPA has clarified that not only fruit or nut trees in orchards, but also other trees acting as windbreaks in an orchard, vineyard, hop yard or hop garden are exempt from thecutting and trimming rules operating 1 March to the 31 August (inclusive). This applies from 1 January 2016.

SMR 7 - Cattle identification and registration

Those with cattle must still record (in their holding register) the dam's ear tag number for animals born on their holding. However, they no longer need to record the dam's ear tag number for animals arriving on their holding. This change came into force last April 2015 and is included in the new guide.

Another important aspect to consider is the soil management requirements particularly in times of wet weather in relation poaching and erosion. New cross compliance rules were introduced in 2015 that established a set of national minimum standards for soil management rather than a requirement to keep a paper log. The soil management rules include:

GAEC 4 - Minimum soil cover

GAEC 5 - Minimum land management reflecting site specific conditions to limit erosion

GAEC 6 - Maintenance of soil organic matter level

Within the guide there is a list of 'Key Dates' which give useful reminders of things claimants should (and shouldn't) do throughout the course of the year to meet the cross compliance rules. Printing off a copy of this list as posting on the wall of the farm office will help keep you up to date.

It is important to remember that the Cross Compliance rules apply for the whole of the calendar year, across the whole area of a claimant's holding, and to all agricultural activities. However there are exemptions hence it is vital that all claimants know what rules apply to them.

The RPA carry out cross compliance inspections on a selection of holdings each year. Anyone found to be in breach on their holding risks a reduction in payment(s) and loss of valuable income.

Youngs RPS

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