Failure to properly identify and register their cattle and sheep were the most common problems farmers faced in 2007 in meeting the EU’s cross compliance standards.

According to new figures from the Rural Payments Agency, a total of 1042 cattle and sheep producers faced deductions to their single farm payments or other rural development programme payments as a result of these errors.

In most cases this took the form of a 1% penalty. But 50 farmers suffered payment deductions of more that 5%.

The most common failures in relation to cattle included:

  • failure to report the movement or death of an animal
  • failure to tag or re-tag animals within 28 days
  • animals found with no passport, or passports present with no animals

For sheep, the most common problems were:

  • failure to make an annual inventory of the animals kept on a farm
  • failure to enter all or some movements
  • tagging problems

Another area of difficulty was in the field of animal welfare – introduced in 2007 for the first time as a statutory management requirement (SMR).

Failure to keep proper records of medicine use and mortality rates, sick animals not properly cared for and sharp protrusions in bedding areas were all picked up as common flaws. Most were dealt with by a 1% penalty.

Some farmers also failed to keep their land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC).

Particular problems were found with conducting a proper Soil Protection Review, including measures to rectify soil management issues. Some 30 farmers faced 3% penalties for this.

Another fault, affecting 35 claimants, was in relation to hedgerow management and water courses, with farmers either cultivating or applying spray and fertiliser to the 2m protection strip.