GRASSLAND FARMERS should not be asked to produce a formal soil management strategy as part of cross-compliance, according to the National Beef Association.
The NBA said DEFRA had promised it would confine cross-compliance to measures that would protect the environment and make sure it applied the system with a light touch.
But the plans outlined in its consultation paper confirmed the difficulty it has had in resisting the temptation to gold-plate requirements, it said.
“Its consultation proposals are peppered with ideas that have strayed beyond the limits laid down by EU regulation,” said NBA chairman, Robert Robinson.
“It appears to have difficulty distinguishing between protection measures that farmers must fall in with and environmental enhancements it is obliged to pay for.”
Mr Robinson said DEFRA should give up its plans to force a formal soil management strategy on grassland farmers and provide a clear definition of undergrazing.
It should also establish a consistent inspectorate – preferably using a single agency, and concede that permanent pasture can be protected without stiff management constraints.
“Corrupted cross-compliance runs directly counter to the new management freedoms that are the foundation of the decoupling principle,” said Mr Robinson.
“If the add-ons that DEFRA has in mind are adopted they will seriously undermine this flexibility as well as impose unjustified management costs.”