A lot of farm equestrian and cattle gateways get really muddy during the wet weather, if you lay Ecogrid permeable ground stabilisation grids down, you can easily stop this and keep these areas green and pleasant, ensuring an aesthetic and healthy environment for your animals. If you don’t maintain these areas, you may risk losing your subsidies. More information:

This guide offers an overview of the standards of good agricultural and environmental condition (GAECs).
GAECs form part of the requirements under Cross Compliance and apply to anyone who receives payments under Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and certain Rural Development schemes. These requirements apply in addition to underlying obligations under European and UK legislation. GAECs set requirements for farmers in respect of soils, as well as maintaining a range of habitat and landscape features which are characteristic of the English countryside. They either reinforce existing law, or were already existing good practice. In the UK, the devolved governments of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland each define GAEC standards for their own region. This takes into account the diversity in landscape and farming practices throughout the UK.
The guide provides a complete list of the GAECs for England and links to other guides about specific GAEC standards.
What are good agricultural and environmental conditions?
You have to keep your farmland in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC) as part of Cross Compliance requirements – failure to meet GAECstandards may result in a reduction to your payment. This applies to programmes such as:
• the SPS – see the guide on the SPS
• other land-based direct-payment schemes
• Environmental Stewardship – see Environmental Stewardship: the basics
• the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE)
Specifically, the GAEC standards aim to ensure that farmers protect the three main elements of the farmed environment. These are:
• soil and water
• habitats and wildlife
• landscape features
As a result of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Health Check, the Energy Crops Scheme, Protein Crop Premium and Area Payment for Nuts scheme will end in 2012. Funding from these schemes will transfer into the SPS.
Good agricultural and environmental conditions and Cross Compliance
As a claimant of Single Payment Scheme (SPS) or certain Rural Development Programme in England (RDPE) subsidies, you need to meet standards of good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAECs) as part of your Cross Compliance requirements to protect:
• soil and water
• habitats and wildlife
• landscape features
The majority of cross compliance requirements are part of existing law that all farmers must meet, even if they are not claiming subsidy.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA), the Environment Agency (EA), Animal Health (AH) and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) inspect farms which receive SPSfunding and other direct payments to ensure they are meeting cross compliance requirements.
If you do not meet GAEC standards, RPA may reduce your payments; the percentage reduction will depend on factors such as the severity and extent of the breach. You may also face legal penalties where the cross compliance requirement is also part of domestic law.
GAEC standards provide a baseline of environmental protection for soil and water, habitats and landscape features. If your compliance requirements under the RDPEschemes – such as Environmental Stewardship – conflict with GAEC measures, then theRDPE scheme requirements will take priority.