The three-crop rule will not apply to tillage farmers in 2024, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has announced.

Speaking this Wednesday, Minister McConalogue said he was implementing force majeure in exempting tillage farmers from crop diversification requirements under CAP, more commonly known as the two- and three-crop rule.

“The adverse weather and seed shortage has restricted the crop options for tillage farmers this spring.

“Met Éireann data shows that most rainfall stations experienced more than 150% of the average rainfall in the July to December 2023 period.

“I’m satisfied that these weather events allow for the use of the force majeure option within the regulations and, consequently, farmers will be exempt for 2024 from the crop diversification obligations under good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAEC) seven, commonly known as the two- and three-crop rule,” he said.

The Minister added that tillage farmers will still be required to meet the obligations in relation to crop rotation by 2026, but this will allow farmers more flexibility.

“This exemption will allow farmers pick the crops that best suit their circumstances, taking account of the time of sowing, market returns and seed availability,” he said.

Derogation application

The Department of Agriculture had applied to the European Commission for a derogation from the rules in February, but legal issues surrounded granting this derogation.

As a result, the Department is now implementing force majeure, given the poor weather which has been prevalent since last September.

This weather has disrupted harvesting crops, the planting of winter crops and, up to now, virtually no spring crops have been planted.

Many farmers have been under pressure to meet these requirements. Leniency in the rules will help farmers in what has been an extremely difficult season for the tillage sector.

Tillage farmers and the industry have been calling for a derogation from the rules for some time.