“Education is the key not regulation,” according to Tim Hyde, Teagasc environmental specialist who spoke on the issue of cross compliance at this week’s National Agri-Environment Conference in Tullamore.

In his presentation Hyde outlined what cross compliance is, why it’s important and notes that educational resources for farmers was key.

“Cross compliance involves two key elements. Firstly, it requires farmers to comply with the 19 statutory management regulationss set out in EU legislation.Secondly, it requires farmers to maintain their land in good agricultural and environmental condition.”

Hyde outlined Teagasc’s role in the area of cross compliance, which involves education, fertiliser planning, support to farmers before and after inspection and updating farmers on new rules.

He stressed the importance of education. He noted that Teagasc operate a cross-compliance training, which is designed to help farmers understand the requirements in the area. Teagasc also outline the information available, improve compliance, improve industry performance in the area and contribute to Ireland’s green image.

According to Teagasc cross compliance research, farmers use Teagasc as a source for information on cross compliance more than any other outlet yet more needed to be done.

“There was still difficulty in getting information to farmers. The research found that farmers like one-to-one advice. A lot of farmers see it as a complex area. It is hard to get information across to large crowds and there is a large disparity in the understanding of the issue between farmers,” he noted.

To counter this Teagasc has developed a cross-compliance course for farmers. The course, which was piloted in 2012/2013, involves both indoor and outdoor sessions. The feedback Hyde noted “has been excellent”.

“Farmers said they want more information in this format and demand for places has increased as word has spread.”

According to Hyde, there are many challenges for Teagasc in the area of cross compliance. He outlined that information transfer and adoption needed to be improved. He also noted the importance of improving the linkages between stakeholders and the possible challenges the expected changes post 2014 will mean for cross compliance among more.

“All agencies need to get involved with cross compliance and farmers want information in a timely and friendly manner,” he said. “We need to make farmers aware that cross compliance means best practice. Farmers are already farming to at a very high standard and don’t need to be afraid of cross compliance.”

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