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Three-crop rule derogations sought amid difficult drilling situation

Rural Affairs Minister Fergus Ewing has written to EU Farm Commissioner asking for a one-year derogation to the three crop rule and the NFU is exploring options with Defra.


Marianne   Curtis

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Marianne   Curtis
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Designed to ensure crop diversity but never popular in Scotland, complying with the rules will be difficult this year due to the extremely late spring.

 

Very little crop has been established across Scotland so far and only in very favoured coastal locations.

 

Mr Ewing said: “The prolonged harvest and ongoing wet conditions had a serious knock-on effect on cereal farmers’ ability to sow planned crops.

 

“This has already seen a reduction of about 20 per cent of winter crops being established and significant delays for cereal farmers in sowing spring crops. This has immediately reduced options available to meet the three crop rule for Scotland’s cereal farmers.

 

“Given the ongoing weather conditions, it will require a period of continuous dry weather to allow spring planting to move forward."


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Relief

 

Mr Ewing said the derogation would provide ’some much needed relief’ to farmers across Scotland.

 

Meanwhile, the NFU is in discussions with Defra over the best way forward for farmers in the situation where they may not be able to meet the three-crop rule requirement to claim BPS due to very wet conditions curtailing drilling.

 

NFU combinable crops board chairman, Tom Bradshaw said this could either involve a full derogation which would need to be dealt with at EU level or force majeure which could be dealt with at UK level.

 

“The NFU is in conversation about the best way forward for farmers in this situation. It is likely to affect a very small number of growers where conditions have been exceptionally unkind. It will not be a wide scale derogation and people will be likely to have to prove their specific circumstances and why they could not get the [third] crop drilled.

 

“Conversations with Defra are ongoing and we expect to hear something by the end of the month; it is a moveable feast.”

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