One of the most common breaches of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) requirements identified in farm inspections in 2022 was excessive poaching of land, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The Department said that these farmers had sacrificed paddocks for cattle and that they failed to regularly move supplementary feeding points, such as round feeders.

Other breaches under GAEC requirements, identified through cross-compliance inspections, included the removal of or damage to landscape features.

The Department penalised 144 farmers in 2022 for such a breach of the GAEC rules, with the penalties applied to the farmers’ CAP direct payment.

Under CAP rules, agricultural landscape features are small fragments of natural or semi-natural vegetation in agricultural land which, compared to their relatively small size, provide important contributions to ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Other GAEC breaches identified through farm inspections last year included farmers who failed to remove noxious weeds.

Elsewhere, just four farmers were penalised by the Department for encroachment of invading hardwood tree species, including scrub, briars or gorse, on to their land during 2022.

Plant pesticides

The Department also detected cross compliance breaches on farms regarding the use of plant protection products on farms. A spokesperson said that the most common breaches related to a farmer’s non-compliance relating to product registration, non-compliance relating to failure to display a warning sign on a chemical store, and farmers’ failure to maintain adequate pesticide records.