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CAP Reform: Cross Compliance (Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition) Consultation Paper

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CAP Reform: Cross Compliance

The Scottish Executive Consultation Process

Consultation is an essential and important aspect of Scottish Executive working methods. Given the wide-ranging areas of work of the Scottish Executive, there are many varied types of consultation. However, in general Scottish Executive consultation exercises aim to provide opportunities for all those who wish to express their opinions on a proposed area of work to do so in ways which will inform and enhance that work.

While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body. Consultation exercises may involve seeking views in a number of different ways, such as public meetings, focus groups or questionnaire exercises.

Typically, Scottish Executive consultations involve a written paper inviting answers to specific questions or more general views about the material presented. Written papers are distributed to organisations and individuals with an interest in the area of consultation, and they are also placed on the Scottish Executive web site enabling a wider audience to access the paper and submit their responses 1. Copies of all the responses received to consultation exercises (except those where the individual or organisation requested confidentiality) are placed in the Scottish Executive library at Saughton House, Edinburgh (K Spur, Saughton House, Broomhouse Drive, Edinburgh, EH11 3XD, telephone 0131 244 4552).

The views and suggestions detailed in consultation responses are analysed and used as part of the decision making process. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise the responses received may:

  • indicate the need for policy development or review
  • inform the development of a particular policy
  • help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals
  • be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented

If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to:

Cross Compliance
Mailpoint 1-E
Pentland House
47 Robb's Loan
Edinburgh EH14 1TY

CAP Reform: Consultation paper on Cross Compliance (Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition)
Responding to this consultation paper

We are inviting written responses to this consultation paper by 21 May 2004. Please send your response to:

crosscompliance@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
or
Cross Compliance
Mailpoint 1-E
Pentland House
47 Robb's Loan
Edinburgh EH14 1TY

If you have any queries please contact a member of the Cross Compliance consultation team on 0131 244 4176.

We would be grateful if you could clearly indicate in your response which questions or parts of the consultation paper you are responding to (using the consultation questionnaire if appropriate) as this will aid our analysis of the responses received.

For future engagement:

If you wish to access this consultation online, go to http://www.scotland.gov.uk/view/views.asp. You can telephone Freephone 0800 77 1234 to find out where your nearest public internet access point is, if you prefer to submit your response by e-mail to crosscompliance@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

SEConsult

A new email alert system for SE consultations ( SEconsult) was launched in December 2003. This system will allow stakeholder individuals and organisations to register and receive a weekly email containing details of all new SE consultations (including web links). SEconsult will complement, but in no way replace SE distribution lists, and is designed to allow stakeholders to 'keep an eye' on all SE consultation activity, and therefore be alerted at the earliest opportunity to those of most interest. We encourage you to register as soon as possible.

Access to consultation responses

We will make all responses available to the public in the Scottish Executive Library and on the Scottish Executive web pages unless confidentiality is requested. All responses not marked confidential will be checked for any potentially defamatory material before being logged in the library or placed on the website.

Introduction

1. This Consultation document seeks your views on the conditions which farmers should observe in return for receipt of the new Single Farm Payment as part of Common Agricultural Policy reform. Your views are sought by 21 May 2004.

Background

2. Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy will give farmers greater freedom to decide what crops and livestock to produce. Under the reformed CAP, instead of having to produce particular products to obtain subsidy, farmers will be able to choose what to produce. The Council of Ministers of the European Union has also recognised that farmers in receipt of subsidy have important responsibilities towards the protection of the environment, animal health and welfare, and public health. The CAP Reform Agreement (implemented in European law by Council Regulation 1782/2003) therefore requires farmers to observe certain conditions in these areas in return for receipt of this subsidy. This is known as "Cross Compliance".

3. These Cross Compliance conditions mean that in the future a farmer receiving direct payments will be required to respect a number of European laws (known as the Statutory Management Requirements) as well as maintaining the land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC). These arrangements will be introduced on 1 January 2005 (with some of the Statutory Management Requirements following later) and this paper sets out a proposed Scottish framework for Cross Compliance. The results of this consultation will determine precisely what arrangements will be introduced in Scotland. Cross Compliance has been developed to take account of the wide and diverse range of farming types in Scotland.

4. There are two aspects to Cross Compliance as outlined below:

  • The first of these is compliance with a range of 18 European regulatory requirements covering the environment, food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare. These Statutory Management Requirements are a set of laws which are already in force throughout the EU. Cross Compliance means that in future farmers will have to comply with these laws as a condition of receipt of subsidy.
  • The second is compliance with a requirement that all those in receipt of the Single Farm Payment have to maintain the land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC). Council Regulation 1782/2003 sets out a framework of Issues and appropriate Standards which Member States must observe. Member States are permitted to define minimum requirements for GAEC within a European framework. This consultation should help achieve a GAEC system for Scotland that is clear to farmers, can be effectively implemented and can achieve its aims for Scottish farming and the Scottish environment.

Cross Compliance is about both respecting the Statutory Management Requirements and the standards of GAEC.

Statutory Management Requirements

5. Annex A to this paper sets out the laws which farmers will have to comply with as Statutory Management Requirements, as a condition of receipt of the Single Farm Payment. All of these conditions are already legally binding on farmers. The only change is that breach of these legal requirements may in future lead to a partial or complete withholding of the Single Farm Payment. Member States have no discretion about what European laws have to be applied as Statutory Management Requirements.

6. The relevant authorities for inspection and enforcement of the Statutory Management Requirements include SEERAD Agricultural Staff, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Local Authorities and the State Veterinary Service, and we are putting arrangements in place to ensure that the various inspection and enforcement bodies work in a co-ordinated way without unnecessary multiple visits to farms.

Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition

7. Member States have substantially more discretion in the development of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition which farmers must observe, in conjunction with the Statutory Management Requirements, as a condition of receipt of the single farm payment.

8. The CAP reform agreement requires that land in receipt of the Single Farm Payment should be kept in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition so that land abandonment is avoided and so that the positive environmental benefits of agricultural management of the land are secured.

9. Council Regulation 1782/2003 requires the definition of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition to be in accordance with the framework set out in Table 1 below:

Table 1: EC Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition Framework

Issue

Standards

Soil erosion:

  • Protect soil through appropriate measures
  • Minimum soil cover
  • Minimum land management reflecting site-specific conditions
  • Retain terraces

Soil organic matter:

  • Maintain soil organic matter levels through appropriate practices
  • Standards for crop rotations where applicable
  • Arable stubble management

Soil structure:

  • Maintain soil structure through appropriate measures
  • Appropriate machinery use

Minimum level of maintenance:

  • Ensure a minimum level of maintenance and avoid the deterioration of habitats
  • Minimum livestock stocking rates or/and appropriate regimes
  • Protection of permanent pasture
  • Retention of landscape features
  • Avoiding the encroachment of unwanted vegetation on agricultural land

10. The Scottish Executive has worked closely with experts from the land management,
conservation and environmental sectors to draw up a draft definition of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition which is appropriate to the range of Scottish circumstances. In doing so we have tried to:

  • Follow existing codes of good practice (eg Good Farming Practice and the General Environmental Conditions for participants in agri-environment schemes) where these fit within the prescribed European framework;
  • We have tried to incorporate standards of management which we believe most farmers would regard as reasonable good practice; and
  • We have tried to use the framework flexibly so that we do not artificially constrain changes in land use and land condition where these are environmentally benign.
Proposed Draft Measures: GAEC

11. In developing these measures we have had regard both to ensuring that they are reasonable for land managers and to ensuring that we adequately safeguard the land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition as required by the CAP reform agreement. The Scottish Executive is clear that the standards must be set at a level which prevents farmers who are in receipt of subsidy from allowing the agricultural and environmental quality of the land to deteriorate significantly.

12. The proposed framework for Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition, on which your views are invited, is attached at Annex B. For each of the issues and standards set out in the European framework, we have defined:

  • draft proposed measures which farmers would, where appropriate, be expected to undertake to meet the defined Standards;
  • draft advisory guidelines to give farmers greater clarity about what activities are likely to be regarded as acceptable and what activities are not likely to be regarded as acceptable;
  • the "retain terraces" standard was not considered applicable to Scottish conditions.
Regional Flexibility

13. In developing this framework we have been conscious of the wide variability of soils, habitats and farming systems throughout Scotland. We have aimed to design a framework for Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition which applies flexibly to a wide range of farmed environments. Some of the standards will only be relevant in certain environments - for instance measures relating to cultivation will not be relevant to upland rough grazing. For the most part the relevance of particular measures to particular environments should be self-evident, but the 'guidance' column in the framework aims to clarify the action necessary to comply with the measures.

Impact Assessment

14. The Scottish Executive is currently working on an assessment of the costs to businesses of compliance with the proposed conditions. To the extent that the Statutory Management Requirements represent compliance with the law as it currently exists, and the proposals on Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition represent existing good practice, the costs for farmers who are already farming in an environmentally sustainable way should be slight. As part of developing a Regulatory Impact Assessment, however, we would be pleased to receive evidence about the costs and benefits of the proposed conditions.

Cross Compliance: Sanctions System

15. Regulation 1782/2003 provides for penalties for breaches of Cross Compliance to be proportionate to the severity, extent, permanence and repetition of the non-compliance. In cases of negligence, it specifies that the percentage of reduction in the Single Farm Payment should not exceed 5% or (in cases of repeated non-compliance) 15%. In cases of intentional non-compliance it specifies that the percentage reduction shall not in principle be less than 20% of the Single Farm Payment and may go as far as total exclusion from the aid scheme for one or more calendar years.

16. The Regulation requires the European Commission to propose detailed rules about reductions and inclusions, and they are presently considering the administration of Cross Compliance under the reformed CAP. The UK are pressing for a system that has a fit for purpose administrative and inspection system that is not over bureaucratic and ensures that costs are reasonable and proportionate. These enforcement arrangements will therefore be subject to further detailed regulations emerging from the Commission.

17. The Executive intends that an appeals model based upon the existing appeals procedure for EU agricultural subsidy schemes should apply to disputes about the application of a penalty. This procedure has three stages: an in-house review, an external panel review and an appeal to the Scottish Land Court.

Broader Context

Relationship to Other Initiatives

18. The definition of requirements for maintenance of the land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition in accordance with this proposed framework should be understood as only part of the Executive's action with partners to secure the environmental sustainability of the farming industry.

19. Codes of Good Practice already exist whose scope is wider than the European framework for Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition, including the code on Prevention of Environmental Pollution From Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) and the 4 Point Plan for livestock farmers to minimise pollution and benefit their businesses. There are also elements of the existing standards of Good Farming Practice and General Environmental Conditions which apply to participants in Agri-Environment schemes and, from 2004, in the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme, but are not specifically part of the GAEC framework. These include the requirement to notify Scottish Natural Heritage of any intended operations likely to damage a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the requirement to notify or obtain permission from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for constructing silage or storage facilities or disposing of sheep dip, and the general requirement to observe the PEPFAA code.

Positive Benefits for the Environment

20. The definition of GAEC reflects the specific European framework prescribed, and farmers' entitlement to the Single Farm Payment will be dependent on the conditions which reflect that framework. This provides important safeguards for the environmental sustainability of Scottish farming. The Executive is however also clear that observance of these requirements for GAEC will obtain a "baseline" level of environmental protection, and that incentives should be available to help farmers to take further action which secures positive benefit for the environment. The overall contextual framework is along the following lines:

  • The requirements proposed here for GAEC will, subject to refinement in light of consultation, set a standard which will have to be observed by all farmers in receipt of the Single Farm Payment;
  • The Executive will continue to make incentives available to farmers to promote sustainable farming, above and beyond the Single Farm Payment, including the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme and the Rural Stewardship Scheme, and further measures which may be developed as part of a Land Management Contracts programme; and
  • Farmers who choose voluntarily to participate in these additional Scottish Executive schemes may be required to observe additional Cross Compliance standards as a condition of their participation in these schemes, and in particular would be expected to observe the existing elements of Good Farming Practice and the General Environmental Conditions which do not fit within the framework for the definition of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition set out at European level.

21. Once the Scottish framework for Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition is finalised the Executive will give consideration to the development of a Unified Code of Practice incorporating the various existing codes which advise farmers on environmental do's and don'ts.

Advisory Services

22. The proposed definition of measures to secure the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition of agricultural land is intended to be as comprehensible as possible to land managers. We recognise, however, that land managers may wish to take advice on whether their current practice fits within Cross Compliance conditions.

23. The CAP reform agreement anticipates this advisory demand. EC Regulation 1782/2003 provides for Member States, by 1 January 2007, to set up a farm advisory system which should at least cover the Statutory Management Requirements and the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition requirements. This is intended to help farmers understand whether their current operations are at risk of putting them in breach of Cross Compliance requirements. Participation by farmers is intended to be voluntary.

24. The Executive is currently piloting a Whole Farm Review Pilot Scheme to give farmers subsidised access to joined-up business and environmental advice, including advice about whether their activities are putting them at risk of regulatory penalties. The Executive will review this pilot before introducing revised advisory measures during 2004.

Consultation Questions

GAEC Measures ( Annex B)

  1. Are the Measures achievable by farmers?
  2. Can they be achieved at reasonable cost?
  3. Are the measures sufficient to achieve good agricultural and environmental condition within the terms of the agreed framework?
  4. What benefits flow from the draft Measures?.
  5. What, if any, should be deleted?
  6. What could reasonably be added?

GAEC Guidelines ( Annex B)

  1. Are the Guidelines readily understood?
  2. What, if any, should be deleted?
  3. What could reasonably be included?
Conclusion

25. Your views are invited by 21 May 2004 on the proposed specification of measures to ensure that the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition of land in receipt of the Single Farm Payment is maintained.

1 www.scotland.gov.uk