Entitlement to income aid in compliance with provisions of the European Union (EU): What is meant by cross compliance (CC) in agriculture can be briefly described. The requirements cover specific areas such as environmental protection, human, animal and plant health as well as animal welfare. It is important to know that the EU sets particularly high standards. Agricultural payments offer incentives to meet these standards. At the same time, they create a compensation for higher production costs incurred in the EU compared with other countries. The linking of agricultural payments to standards was legally established by the EU in 2003 with the introduction of cross-compliance. The regulation No. 1306/2013 together with the implementation provisions of the individual member states governs which provisions are relevant. In the case of Germany, this concerns the agricultural payment obligation act and the agricultural payment commitment regulation.
Cross-compliance linked to agricultural payments of the EU Common Agricultural Policy: But what is being checked?
For agricultural businesses, cross-compliance has a real impact on practice. Every year, around five per cent will check whether they comply with the regulations and receive EU funds. A check can affect anyone who has submitted a multiple application. But what is being checked? What proof must be readily available?
In order to receive income support, agricultural businesses must follow a number of basic rules. These rules relate to the “statutory management requirements” (SMR) as well as the “good agricultural and environmental conditions” (GAEC). The SMR must be complied with regardless of whether aid aids are obtained within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). These include regulations on public health, animal health, plant health, animal welfare and environmental protection. In addition, the regulations in the GAEC area have to be complied with for the aid as part of the CAP. Reducing soil erosion, preventing the removal of landscape elements, greening areas taken out of production and protecting water bodies – these are a few of the goals.
The type of proof to be presented during a check depends on the type of farming management. In addition to the advisory recommendations for nitrogen fertilisation, these are usually the test results of the farmyard manure used from external farms (e.g. biogas fermentation residues), the nutrient comparison (determination of fertiliser requirements and material flow balance), the soil analyses for phosphate for all field plots over one hectare (not older than six years), the certificate of competence in crop protection and the crop protection records.
The list shows that the obligation to provide proof is associated with a great deal of documentation effort. In the event of errors, negligence or incompleteness of documents, there is a risk of penalties, which are determined by the inspectors according to severity, extent and duration – with the consequence that agricultural payments can be reduced. The list also shows that the obligation to provide proof cannot (any longer) easily be met with a piece of paper and a pen, particularly as the requirements are likely to increase. The question is: What contribution can digitisation contribute to make the work easier, safer and more efficient?