Consultation on GAEC Standards

May 22, 2015

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) issued a consultation on proposals to revise the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC Standards) that farmers should observe when receiving direct support payments as part of the Common Agricultural Policy Reform.

The Cross-Compliance conditions mean that farmers receiving agricultural support payments will need to demonstrate they are meeting the Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) of European Legislation as well as maintaining the land in GAEC.

It is proposed that the new arrangements would be introduced on 1 January 2015 and would replace the Cross-Compliance requirements currently being applied.

The consultation confirms that there will continue to be two aspects to Cross-Compliance:-

1. Firstly – compliance with a range of 13 EU Regulatory requirements covering the environment, food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare (i.e. SMRs).

2. Secondly – compliance with a requirement that all those in receipt of direct agricultural support have to maintain the land in GAEC. Member states are permitted to define minimum requirements for GAEC within the EU context and the aim of the consultation is to achieve a GAEC system for Northern Ireland that is unambiguous and can be effectively implemented.

The following SMRs currently in place will be removed from the cross compliance requirements with effect from 1 January 2015:-

• Protection of the environment when sewage and septic tank sludge is used in agriculture;

• Control of Food and Mouth disease;

• Control of certain specified animal diseases;

• Specific provisions for the control and allocation of blue tone.

The proposed GAEC standards for Northern Ireland are set out within the consultation document and DARD has attempted to build upon the current GAEC standards already in place. DARD maintain that the standards should be easily understood by farmers, there should be no gold plating and amendments to existing standards should only be made if there is a justifiable reason for doing so.

The consultation period closes on 30 May 2014.