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'Three crop rule' relaxed and £6 million fund made available for farmers after flooding

By James Pugh | Oswestry | Business | Published:

New measures have been announced by the Government to help farmers recover from recent flooding.

Malcolm Roberts

A £6 million pot of funding will be provided through a further extension to the Farming Recovery Fund.

Support will be available for farmers in Shropshire, Staffordshire, east and north Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire and Herefordshire.

The Environment Secretary has also confirmed that the Government intends to relax the crop diversification requirements known as the 'three crop rule' for farmers for 2020, as farmers in flooded areas have suggested they will have difficulty complying with the rule this year.

The three crop rule was brought over from EU law when the UK left the EU on January 31, and requires farmers managing more than 30 hectares of arable land required to grow at least three different crops on that land. Farmers with smaller land-holdings are also subject to crop diversification requirements.

With large swathes of farmland in England under floodwater for most of February, the Government is pursuing plans through Parliament to relax this rule for all farmers for 2020 so those who are unable to access their flooded land to plant spring crops over the coming weeks and months will not be unfairly penalised. The amendment will be made for Parliament’s approval as soon as possible.

The NFU said the move would make a huge difference to farmers across the county.

Paperwork

NFU regional board chairman Malcolm Roberts, who farms at Oswestry, 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.

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“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."

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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