The Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) has been engaged in discussions with DG Agri on granting exceptions to the three-crop rule for several months.

There is to be flexibility around the three-crop rule for tillage farmers. While there won't be a blanket exemption, the Department has announced it will "make an exception to the crop diversification requirements for 2020 on a case-by-case basis".

In order to avail of this facility, farmers must have declared winter crops, maize or potatoes on their 2019 BPS application and be able to demonstrate that they were adversely affected by the weather conditions in late 2019.

Ireland's 14,000 tillage farmers will be relieved that some flexibility is being granted

Farmers will apply for this exception as part of their 2020 BPS application. Applications will be examined on a case-by-case basis to ensure applicants meet the conditions as outlined above. Further details will be made available closer to the opening of BPS applications.

Ireland's 14,000 tillage farmers will be relieved that some flexibility is being granted.

The difficult back end last year meant some areas saw almost no autumn planting. In addition, some fields suffered structural damage when maize, potato and vegetable crops were extracted. Some potatoes remain to be harvested.


The crop diversification rules, commonly known as the three-crop rule, place obligations on tillage farmers. For farmers with between 10ha and 30ha of arable land but less than 30ha, at least two crops must be grown, of which the main crop cannot exceed 75%.

For those with more than 30ha, at least three crops must be grown. Again, the main crop must not account for more than three-quarters of the sown area and the smallest crop must account for no less than 5% of the total area.

The autumn of 2019 proved a very difficult period for Irish tillage farmers, with above-average rainfall across the main crop-growing areas of the country. This weather has left many farmers unable to complete their planted winter sowings.

Any queries with regard to this exemption can be directed to the Department's greening unit at