Three crop rule suspended for some farmers to ease wet weather pain

Picture by Gary Longbottom.
Picture by Gary Longbottom.
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A temporary exemption from an EU rule which requires farmers with arable land to grow multiple crops has been secured for “most” of the UK, the Government has confirmed.

Farming Minister George Eustice put forward the case for a derogation on the so-called ‘three crop rule’ in order to ease the pressure on farmers who had suffered from the worst of the cold, wet weather that continued long into the new year.

Recap: Yorkshire farmers struggle to reach livestock in worst drifts for decades

Today, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, has announced that the European Commission will grant a derogation on three crop rule requirements for most of the UK.

Under the rule, farmers with between 10 and 30 hectares of arable land must grow at least two different crops on that land, while farmers with more than 30 hectares must grow at least three different crops.

With much of the sowing period this year characterised by heavy rain and snow, many farmers have had no opportunity to sow the crops that they had intended to grow.

Read more: Sodden spring is piling intense pressure on Yorkshire’s farms

As late as March, some farmers told The Yorkshire Post of how they were struggling to function in some of the worst snow drifts they had experienced for decades.

While the ‘Beast from the East’ may now be a fading memory, the wet conditions that lingered for weeks afterwards left many fields saturated, scuppering any hopes of sowing spring crops.

While the three crop rule derogation will be welcomed by farmers, they will be keen to learn the full details of what it means, with details yet to emerge on exactly which parts of the country will benefit.

Mr Eustice said: “We welcome the EU Commission’s decision to approve our request on the three crop rule to ease the strain faced by UK farmers following recent bad weather.

“We will be clarifying details with the Commission so that we can implement any derogation as soon as possible.”

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