NFU responds to three-crop rule derogation

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Responding to the government’s announcement of a derogation for farmers in England from the greening three-crop rule, NFU President Minette Batters said:

“This derogation will make a huge difference to the thousands of farmers in England who have faced months of relentless heavy rain, waterlogging and flooding of fields leaving them unable to plant and establish crops for 2020.

“The unprecedented situation has meant farmers up and down the country have found it virtually impossible to have one crop in the ground, let alone three. Without a derogation they would have been forced down the bureaucratic ‘force majeure’ route that would require case by case assessments and needless paperwork.

“We first raised our concerns about the impact of the weather on farming businesses with Defra and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) last October and have continued to highlight this issue to government, including recently in front of Defra Secretary of State George Eustice at NFU Conference, so I thank him for listening to our concerns in making this decision.

“The derogation will not only be good news to those farmers impacted in areas that stretch well beyond the parts of the country that may be covered by the Farming Recovery Fund, it will provide some relief in dealing with the aftermath of the bad weather and will help to secure BPS payments later this year.

“Although the NFU has never been critical of the environmental intent of the crop diversification requirements, we have always been concerned that this EU-legacy scheme has never been applied with the flexibility needed to suit varying weather and farming situations in Britain.” 

What is the three-crop rule?

The three-crop rule is officially referred to as the Greening Crop Diversification requirement. This requirement means each year a farmer claiming BPS needs to consider if they have to have two or three arable crops as defined located on their arable land between 1 May and 30 June each year.

For more information on the greening rule please refer to the BPS guidance here or here for 2020 once updated.

Greening is made up of three elements, the two remaining elements of Ecological Focus Areas and Permanent Grassland remain in place for 2020.

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