Guide to cross compliance in England: 2016

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Rural Payments Agency
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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.

Who has to follow the rules (and when)

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.

The claimant is the person responsible for making sure the cross compliance rules are met. They must make sure that the following people also meet the rules:

  • anyone acting for them (or under their control) on their holding
  • anyone with access to the holding under the terms of an agreement (including contractors, employees or family members)

However, for those SMRs about the identification and traceability of animals, it is the person with day-to-day responsibility for the animals (the keeper) on the holding who is responsible for meeting the rules (even if they don’t own the animals or the land that they graze on).

Responsibility for the welfare of all farmed animals lies jointly with both:

  • the person who has day to day responsibility for the animals (the keeper)
  • the owner of the animals.

Cross compliance and rural development schemes

If a claimants obligations under a rural development scheme conflict with the GAEC standards in this guide, you should normally follow the rural development scheme rules. Claimants should contact RPA if they aren’t sure which rules to follow.

Common land

You must meet the relevant rules across the whole of your holding, regardless of the amount of land you entered into the schemes.

This includes common land which you exercise or hold rights of common over (including rights in gross). It also applies to all land including forestry for which payments are claimed under rural development schemes.

Who is responsible for meeting the rules if land is transferred?

If you declare land on your BPS application and then transfer that land to another business in the same year, and the business you’ve transferred the land to is:

  • also a BPS claimant that year – after the transfer, they will become responsible for making sure the cross compliance rules are met on the land for the rest of the year (even though they didn’t declare it on their BPS application)

  • NOT a BPS claimant that year – after the transfer, you are still responsible for making sure the cross compliance rules are met on the land.

If land has been transferred to you and you declare it on your BPS application in the same year, and the business you’ve received the land from is:

  • also a BPS claimant that year – they will be responsible for making sure the cross compliance rules are met on the land before the transfer takes place (even if they didn’t declare it on their BPS application)
  • NOT a BPS claimant that year – you are responsible for making sure the cross compliance rules are met on the land for the whole year.

Exemptions and derogations

Exemptions

Sometimes, a claimant may be exempt from a particular rule. This means they don’t have to meet that specific part of a GAEC. This guide explains where these apply.

Some examples of when an exemption could be used are if:

  • there is a risk to human or animal health or safety
  • a claimant needs to control or treat serious causes of harm to plant health
  • there is a serious pest or weed infestation.

Claimants don’t need to write to RPA in advance to ask for an exemption but if they get inspected they must be able to prove how and why they used the exemption.

Exemptions can also be granted if work carried out under a statutory authority stops a claimant meeting one of the rules. (for example, if a pipeline or railway is being built on their land). However, once the statutory authority has finished any work on the land, the claimant must return it to a state which meets the cross compliance rules.

RPA would not expect statutory bodies to have to use their statutory powers to get permission for access, or to carry out work, where voluntary consent already exists.

Derogations

A ‘derogation’ is written permission to temporarily not meet a rule. Claimants can ask for a derogation from certain GAECs in a number of different circumstances. This guide explains where derogations may be available.

Some examples of when a derogation could be used are if:

  • it would benefit the environment
  • it would benefit livestock or crop production
  • it would improve public or agricultural access.

Claimants applying for a derogation must write to or email RPA. They should send all the available evidence (for example, photographs or diagrams) and include the land parcel numbers they want the derogation for.

Correspondence should be clearly marked ‘Cross compliance derogation’. They have to wait for written permission before carrying out any work.

If the derogation request is successful, the claimant won’t have to meet the specific rule in question for a particular period of time.

‘Force majeure’ and exceptional circumstances

If ‘force majeure’ or exceptional circumstances means that a claimant couldn’t follow the cross compliance rules, RPA may not have to apply a cross compliance penalty.

In these cases (which RPA considers on an individual basis), the claimant must provide evidence to show that:

  • there were abnormal and unforeseeable circumstances, outside of their control
  • the consequence of these circumstances couldn’t have been avoided, in spite of all due care having been taken.

Some examples of circumstances where force majeure and exceptional circumstances might be recognised are:

  • the death or long-term professional incapacity of a claimant
  • a severe natural disaster which gravely affects the holding, for example flooding
  • an accident which destroys livestock buildings on the holding
  • an epizootic disease which affects the claimant’s livestock
  • a plant disease which affects the claimant’s crops
  • expropriation of all or a large part of a holding if the claimant couldn’t have anticipated this on the day of lodging the application.

Claimants (or the executor(s) of the estate) must email or write to RPA within15 working days of being able to do so. They must request that ‘force majeure’ applies and provide evidence to show:

  • what has happened
  • how the event meant they couldn’t meet the cross compliance rules
  • how they have taken all due care
  • how the consequences couldn’t have been avoided.