Guide to cross compliance in England: 2016

  1. Contents

Farmers and landowners must follow these cross compliance rules if they claim for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), a stewardship scheme or the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) in 2016.

These are the main changes to the cross compliance rules since last year’s guide:

SMR 7 – Cattle identification and registration

Cattle keepers 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 changed on 6 April 2015 and is now updated in this guide.

GAEC 7c – Trees

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 the 1 March to the 31 August (inclusive) cutting and trimming rules. This applies from 1 January 2016.

GAEC 1 – Establishment of buffer strips along watercourses

From 1 January 2017, land parcels of 2 hectares or less next to watercourses will have to comply with the need to protect watercourses against pollution and run-off from agricultural sources, by maintaining buffer strips. Therefore, for all land:

  • within 2 metres of the centre of a watercourse or field ditch
  • from the edge of the watercourse or field ditch to 1 metre 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.

This change doesn’t apply to GAEC 7a.

  • Key dates for 2016

    Things that claimants should (and shouldn’t) do throughout the year to meet the cross compliance rules.

  • Meeting the rules

    Cross compliance rules apply for the whole calendar year, across the whole area of a claimant’s holding and to all their agricultural activities. However, certain exemptions apply.

  • Penalties

    Claimants may have their scheme payment(s) reduced if they don’t meet the cross compliance rules which apply to their holding.

  • Inspections

    To check that claimants are following cross compliance properly, RPA must carry out inspections on a selection of holdings each year.

  • GAEC 1: Establishment of buffer strips along watercourses

    Water courses must be protected against pollution and run-off from agricultural sources by maintaining buffer strips.

  • GAEC 2: Water abstraction

    You must have a licence from the Environment Agency (EA) to take (abstract) more than 20 cubic metres (4,400 gallons) of water, from an inland or underground source for irrigation, in a single day.

  • GAEC 3: Groundwater

    You must have a permit from the Environment Agency (EA) before you release (discharge) any substance that may harm or pollute groundwater, unless that discharge is an activity that is exempt.

  • GAEC 4: Providing minimum soil cover

    You must have a minimum soil cover

  • GAEC 5: Minimising soil erosion

    You must have minimum land management which reflects site specific conditions to limit erosion.

  • GAEC 6: Maintaining the level of organic matter in soil

    You must maintain your soil organic matter through appropriate practices.

  • GAEC 7a: Boundaries

    You must protect boundary features, such as hedgerows (hedges), stone walls, earth banks and stone banks because they’re important landscape features.

  • GAEC 7b: Public Rights of Way

    Public rights of way (public footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic) must be kept open and accessible because they are important landscape features.

  • GAEC 7c: Trees

    You may need to get a licence from the Forestry Commission if you want to cut down (fell) a tree. You must check if a tree has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) and meet any conditions of the TPO. You must also follow the rules about when you can trim or cut trees.

  • GAEC 7d: Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

    You must not damage or destroy SSSIs. SSSI status is placed on land which, following a legal process, is judged to have special flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features.

  • GAEC 7e: Ancient Monuments

    Ancient Monuments are nationally important sites that have been given legal protection by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport due to their archaeological or historic interest.

  • SMR 1: Reduce water pollution in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs)

    Claimants with land in NVZs must help to reduce water pollution by using and storing fertiliser and manure carefully.

  • SMR 2: Wild birds

    You must preserve and maintain, as well as re-establish where necessary, a sufficiently large and diverse area of habitat for all wild birds

  • SMR 3: Habitats and species

    You must protect species of flora and fauna.

  • SMR 4: Food and feed law

    You must make sure that the production of food for human consumption and the production of food or feed that’s fed to food-producing animals is safe.

  • SMR 5: Restrictions on the use of substances having hormonal or thyrostatic action and beta-agonists in farm animals

    It is illegal to use substances that have a hormonal or thyrostatic action and beta-agonists for growth promotion in stock farming. Some substances can be used for authorised therapeutic purposes only, but these must be administered to a clearly identified animal only by a veterinarian, who must record details of the treatment in a register/record book.

  • SMR 6: Pig identification and registration

    Identifying your animals and keeping accurate records helps movements of pigs to be traced. In the event of a disease outbreak it is important that the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) knows where animals have moved from and to.

  • SMR 7: Cattle identification and registration

    Keepers must identify their cattle, including bison and buffalo. They must keep accurate records about their animals and notify cattle births, movements and deaths.

  • SMR 8: Sheep and goat identification

    You must identify your animals and keep accurate records to allow movements of sheep and goats to be traced. In the event of a disease outbreak, it’s important that we know where animals have moved from and to.

  • SMR 9: Prevention and control of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs)

    You must minimise the risk posed to human and animal health by certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

  • SMR 10: Plant Protection Products (PPPs)

    You must follow strict controls over the use of pesticides as they can harm people, wildlife and the environment.

  • SMR 11: Welfare of calves

    You must protect the welfare of calves (bovine animals up to six months old) by meeting minimum standards for their care and husbandry.

  • SMR 12: Welfare of pigs

    You must protect the welfare of pigs by meeting minimum standards for their care and husbandry.

  • SMR 13: Animal welfare

    You must protect the welfare of farmed animals by setting minimum standards for their care and husbandry. This SMR applies to any species kept for farming purposes.

  • More information

    Further relevant addresses and contact numbers

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