Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has raised the need for a derogation from the three-crop rule for farmers and growers in Northern Ireland with the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.
During the meeting the Commissioner indicated that his officals had been in contact with representatives of DAERA and DEFRA and aired his sympathy for the plight of Northern Ireland’s arable farmers who were unable to sow spring crops due to the extreme rainfall of recent months and confirmed that he will be in a position to make an immediate decision on a derogation once he has received supporting information from UK officials.
Commenting after the meeting, Mr Nicholson said: “Following near-record rainfall levels in Northern Ireland in recent months, I met the EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan in Strasbourg this (Tuesday) morning to raise the possibility of a derogation from the crop diversification requirement of the CAP for arable farmers in Northern Ireland.
“During the meeting I impressed upon the Commissioner the impossibility for arable farmers to meet the three-crop rule following the rainfall and proposed that those farmers and growers be exempted from the requirements of the rule for 2018.
“The Commissioner confirmed that his officials are in contact with officials in DAERA and DEFRA and, as soon as the necessary supporting information has been provided, he will be in a position to make an immediate decision on a derogation.
“The Commissioner indicated his sympathy for the plight of arable farmers affected by the extreme rainfall and their inability to sow spring crops, particularly those most typically sown in Northern Ireland, for which the optimum sowing time has passed.
“The formalities of granting a derogation will take some time, but the Commissioner confirmed his anxiety to give arable farmers the certainty they need to get on with their business as soon as the weather improves. The Commissioner also undertook to keep me advised of any developments in the coming days.”