The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that it requested a partial derogation from good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC) 7 last week.

GAEC 7 is one of the standards of keeping land in good agricultural and environmental condition under CAP and specifically covers crop diversification and crop rotation.

This season, tillage farmers are struggling to meet crop diversification requirements, which are more commonly referred to as the two- and three-crop rule.

Farmers are struggling to meet three-crop rule targets, as wet weather prevented planting of crops in the autumn and winter time.

In a statement to the Irish Farmers Journal, the Department said: “At the meeting of the CAP committee on the implementation of the CAP strategic plans last week, DAFM [Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine] raised its formal request for a partial derogation from GAEC 7 - Crop Rotation requirements and in particular the crop diversification requirements of GAEC 7.”


The Irish Farmers Journal understands that other member states are looking for derogations from a number of GAEC requirements.

The Department noted: “At this meeting, DAFM also supported an amendment to the GAEC 8 standard in relation to the requirement to devote a minimum share of agricultural area to non-productive areas and features in solidarity with other member states.

"In Ireland, the requirement is to devote 4% of both arable and grassland to non-productive features (space for nature). The vast majority of farmers in Ireland have far in excess of this 4% requirement.”

Some farmers who do not want to plant three crops on their farms do take an alternative option from the Department and can plant catch crops on 50% of their total arable area from 2023 to 2026.

However, this does not make sense for a farmer who does not usually avail of this alternative as they would need to carry out this measure for more than the one year which they are affected in. This in turn could impact on their crop rotation and their ACRES measures if they are in the scheme.

Catch crops

In relation to the growing of catch crops on 50% of the total arable area in the period 2023 to 2026, it should be highlighted that this is an alternative option to crop diversification and crop rotation as part of GAEC 7.

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) last week said that Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must deliver an exemption from the three-crop rule.

Last week, the Department did confirm that patchy crops would not be penalised in direct payments.