No fines for farmers deserting three-crop rule
AGRICULTURE Commissioner Phil Hogan has moved to assure tillage farmers they will “not be penalised” for abandoning the three-crop rule this year.
It follows approval for Agriculture Minister Michael Creed’s request to set aside the diversification measure for this year after planting was severely delayed by the poor weather.
However, independent agri-consultants raised concerns about completing BPS applications for farmers as they have not yet received official confirmation from the Depart- ment of Agriculture. Teagasc said where viable options are not available, farmers must make it clear, on their online application, that they wish to apply for this derogation.
Boortmalt said it had reached out to growers to assess if there was interest in extra seed for malting barley.
Mr Hogan was adamant farmers could go ahead this year and plant without adhering to the rule. “I believe the decision to suspend the threecrop rule which I implemented on April 11 is the right decision in the exceptional year that we’ve had,” he said.
“It will allow farmers to get on with sowing their spring barley and protein crops in the coming weeks in the knowledge they will not be penalised under the greening rules for threecrop diversification.
“You will ring the Department of Agriculture and you will be told that all the decisions are not gone through — that is the technical line and the official line. But I am telling you that I have political agreement since April 11 with the Commissioner for the Environment that all will be okay this year on the three-crop rule,” he said. “It is the paperwork that is only being tidied up.” A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said they were “confident” the case for a derogation met the standards.
“Whilst formal approval from the EU Commission for the Irish derogation is now awaited, the advice from the Department is that where alternative crop options are not available to allow farmers to be compliant with crop diversification rules, growers can make crop choices that best suits their current situation, even if this leaves them non-compliant with the crop diversification rules,” it stated.