Some 7,986 cross-compliance inspections were carried out on farms in 2022, the Irish Farmers Journal can reveal.

Inspections for last year were down slightly (1.4%) on those carried out in 2021, when there were 8,105. However, the farm inspection rate continues to remain above 2020 levels, when there was a COVID-19 slump.

Following the almost 8,000 inspections by Department of Agriculture officials in 2022, the top areas farmers were penalised for included issues with cattle and sheep identification and registration, breaches of rules to protect water quality, breaches under Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) requirements and the inappropriate use of plant protection products (pesticides).

The Department noted that for the new CAP, from the 1 January 2023 on, conditionality has replaced cross compliance when it comes to farm inspections.

Conditionality refers to a set of baseline requirements under the new CAP and its schemes, which farmers must adhere to in order to receive direct payments.

Beneficiaries of the Basic Income Support Scheme (BISS) and other CAP payments including eco schemes and the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme must adhere to these requirements.

Conditionality consists of 11 statutory management requirements (SMRs) and nine GAECs.

In a new move for this CAP, the Department is complementing its on-the-ground and in-person compliance checks with new area monitoring system and satellite technologies.

The Department suggested that one of the SMRs where there is the most requirements for farmers to adhere to is SMR 2, which involves the management of farms in accordance with the requirements under the EU Nitrates Directive and Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme.

The new programme involves changes to slurry and soiled water storage and management.

For example, from 1 December 2024, for all milk producers, a minimum of 31 days soiled water storage capacity must be in place on the holding.

For winter/liquid milk producers this storage must be in place by 1 December 2025.