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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Up to 25% of conditionality inspections to be randomly inspected

At least 1% of CAP beneficiaries will be selected for a conditionality inspection annually, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed, writes farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane.

Under current regulations, there is a requirement whereby between 20-25% will be chosen at random, while the remainder will be selected on the basis of risk analysis.

However, cross reports – by another DAFM division or an external body such as a local authority of the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) may also feed into selection for a conditionality inspection, which the department’s ICD – Integrated Controls Division – oversees.

As previously outlined by the DAFM, conditionality, which replaces cross-compliance in the new CAP since January 1st, 2023, sets the baseline for farmers in receipt of CAP payments.

CAP payments are linked to a set of mandatory rules/regulations known as conditionality, which consists of SMRS and GAECs and on the climate and the environment – including water, soil and bio-diversity of eco-systems, public health and plant health and animal welfare.

Since January 1st, 2023, there are a number of key changes to SMRs (11 in total), as outlined in this news article on That’s Farming.

In brief, the SMRs under conditionality are
  • 1: Water abstraction  and  protection  of  waters  against  pollution caused by phosphates;
  • 2: Protection of waters from pollution caused by nitrates;
  • 3: Conservation of wild birds;
  • 4: Conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna;
  • 5: Food & feed hygiene;
  • 6: Restrictions on   the   use   of   substances   having   hormonal   or thyrostatic action and beta-agonists in farm animals;
  • 7: Proper and safe use of plant protection products;
  • 8: Sustainable use of plant protection products;
  • 9: Minimum standards for the protection and welfare of calves;
  • 10: Minimum standards for the protection and welfare of pigs;
  • 11: Minimum standards for the protection and welfare of animals kept for farming purposes

Moreover, there are also changes to GAECs (9 in total), which govern standards relating to soil, the protection and maintenance of soil organic matter, and avoiding the deterioration of habitats and water protection, which we looked at in this news article.

The GAECs under conditionality are as follows –
  • 1: Maintenance of  permanent  grassland  based  on  a  ratio  of  permanent grassland in relation to agricultural area;
  • 2: Protecting peatlands and wetlands;
  • 3: Burning of arable stubble is not allowed, except for plant health reasons;
  • 4: Establishment of buffer strips along water courses;
  • 5: Tillage management to reduce the risk of soil degradation and erosion;
  • 6: Land management practices to reduce the risk of soil degradation and erosion;
  • 7: Crop rotation in arable land;
  • 8: Minimum share  of  agricultural  area  (4%)  devoted  to  non-productive areas  or  features,  retention  of  landscape  features,  ban  on  cutting  hedges  and trees  during  the  bird  breeding  and  nesting  season  &  measures  for  avoiding invasive plant species;
  • 9: Protection of environmentally sensitive permanent grasslands in Natura 2000 sites.

Beneficiaries under the following schemes must comply with SMRs and GAECs:

  • BISS;
  • Eco-Scheme;
  • CRISS;
  • CIS-YF;
  • Protein Aid;
  • ANC;
  • SIM;
  • SCEP;
  • ACRES;
  • Organic Farming Scheme;
  • Sheep Improvement Scheme.

Non-compliance assessment

As set out in the DAFM’s terms and conditions, “for the calculation of those reductions and exclusions, account shall be taken of the severity, extent, permanence or reoccurrence and intentionality of the non-compliance detected”.

“The administrative penalties imposed shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive,” the DAFM outlines.

  • Extent of a non-compliance applies where off-farm impact;
  • Severity of non-compliance takes into account the level of consequences associated with the non-compliance;
  • Permanence shall depend on the length of time for which impacts last or the potential for terminating those impacts by reasonable means. For example, a pollution incident – how long may it be until a watercourse recovers?

Breaches may give rise to a conditionality penalty, which may apply to payments under the DAFM farm schemes that we have listed above.

Non-intentional non-compliance – negligence:

  • As a general rule, 3% sanction;
  • Can be decreased to 1%;
  • Can be increased to 5-10%.

Intentional non-compliance (intent):

  • % reduction shall be at least 15% and can be increased to up to 100%;
  • Intent scale: 15%, 25%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100&.

Re-occurrence of non-compliance:

  • Same non-compliance persists or re-occurs once within three consecutive years of the first non-compliance and is found on subsequent inspections;
  • Increased sanction at a graduated scale rather than calculated by a multiplication factor of three.

More farming news on That’s Farming.

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