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Eustice and Ewing request three-crop rule derogation amid difficult drilling situation

Farming Minister George Eustice and Rural Affairs Minister Fergus Ewing have written to EU Farm Commissioner asking for a one-year UK-wide derogation to the three crop rule.


Marianne   Curtis

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Eustice and Ewing request three-crop rule derogation amid difficult drilling situation

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.

 

In England, farmers with more than 30-hectares (74-acres) have struggled to meet the Common Agricultural Policy’s crop diversification requirements to grow at least three different crops, due to the main sowing period battered by heavy rain and snow.

 

Farming Minister George Eustice has written to Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, to request the exemption on behalf of England and the devolved administrations.


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He said: “With the help of the Devolved Administrations, we have put forward a detailed case to the European Commission for a derogation from the CAP’s Crop Diversification Requirement.

 

“Farmers will be making their final cropping decisions in the coming weeks, and we hope the Commission will inform us of their decision shortly so we can provide them with clarity.”

 

It comes only a week after Rural Affairs Minister Fergus Ewing wrote a similar letter to Mr Hogan in the hope a derogation would provide ’some much needed relief’ to farmers across Scotland.

 

Knock-on effect

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

“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.”

 

Defra said it was calling for early clarity on the requirement from Mr Hogan to allow farmers to make practical decisions ‘in the best interests of protecting their soil in these difficult conditions, rather than seeking to meet an inappropriate EU requirement or face reductions in their subsidy payments for non-compliance’.

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