To receive direct support payments under the Common Agricultural Policy Scottish farmers and land managers must keep their land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition
(GAEC) and comply with a number of specified legal requirements, known as Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs). These requirements and standards are known as ‘Cross Compliance’. If a farmer fails to meet Cross Compliance rules they face penalties in the form of reductions to, or the withdrawal of, their direct payments.
While Scottish Land & Estates accepts the principle that breaches of Cross Compliance should lead to some form of penalty, Scottish Land & Estates also believes that penalties for breaches should be proportionate. At present, relatively minor rule breaches can result in huge penalties that are out of proportion to the nature of the breach. Scottish Land & Estates supports moves to advocate a more fit-for-purpose inspection and penalty regime.
Scottish Land & Estates also resists arguments that Cross Compliance should be strengthened in order to deliver more environmental benefit. Scottish Land & Estates believes that direct payments are intended to help maintain a productive agricultural sector and that if farmers and land managers are asked to deliver greater environmental public goods they should be rewarded for doing so.