Derogation of 3 crop rule welcomed

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The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has welcomed EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan’s announcement of his intention to agree a derogation from the requirements for crop diversification for arable farmers in Northern Ireland in 2018.

This follows the Department’s submission of a formal request to the EU Commission last month.

Welcoming the announcement Head of Food and Farming at DAERA, Norman Fulton, said: “The Department took this action because it recognised that extreme weather during the summer of 2017, coupled with sustained rainfall and periods of frost and snow during the winter and early spring of 2017/18, has meant that some arable farmers in Northern Ireland, through no fault of their own, have been unable to plant the normal range of crops that would enable them to meet the Crop Diversification requirement to qualify for the Greening payment.

“Whilst formal approval from the EU Commission for the derogation is now awaited, Commissioner Hogan’s announcement will help to allay some of the concerns expressed by our arable farmers and provide reassurance that, subject to them meeting all other Greening requirements, their inability to meet crop-diversification requirements in 2018 will not impact on their Greening payment. We would advise that where cropping options to allow farmers to be compliant with Crop Diversification rules are not available due to adverse weather, growers can make crop choices that best suit their current situation, even if this leaves them non-compliant with the normal Crop Diversification rules.”

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has welcomed the announcement, adding: “I met with Commissioner Hogan in Strasbourg last month to discuss the need for an exemption from the CAP’s crop diversification requirement for arable farmers in Northern Ireland.

“The extreme rainfall and long winter have made it impossible for farmers to comply with the three-crop rule.

“The announcement that arable farmers will be exempted from the requirements of the rule for 2018 is therefore welcome – this news should provide some much-needed relief for the farmers and growers concerned.”

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the news.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said: “This is something the UFU has been pushing DAERA for in recent weeks. Arable and horticulture growers have been facing huge challenges following a prolonged spell of relentless wet weather . This is welcome news for farmers who can be reassured that their greening payments will not be impacted.”