The Rural Payments Agency has increased penalties for cross-compliance breaches after Brussels ruled the agency was being too lenient with farmers. The RPA said that it had been taking a “light touch” approach to transgressions, particularly livestock movement breaches.

But recent EU audits had found the RPA was being too lenient, an RPA spokeswoman said.

Brussels warned that it would impose fines on the RPA if it did not take a tougher stance against farmers. And that meant the existing situation where farmers got a warning letter for first-time breaches was over, she said.

For all 2009 inspections the RPA will be issuing 3% reductions on single farm payments for most cross-compliance breaches found. The penalty will also apply to Pillar 2 schemes such as environmental stewardship.

EU regulations state that the 3% reduction can be increased or reduced, depending on the severity of the breach.

Details of the cross compliance reductions and guidance can be found by following this link.