The Department of Agriculture has said that farmers may be penalised where they fail to meet crop diversification requirements, but that it will look at cases on an individual basis.

In November, the Department stated that catch crops could be sown on 50% of a farm’s arable area where farmers were unable to meet crop diversification and rotation requirements.

However, in contrast to the November statement the Department has now told the Irish Farmers Journal that farmers availing of this option need to plant catch crops in each year of the CAP from 2023 to 2026.

Catch crops planted under the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) do not count towards this requirement.

“Where the area of catch crops sown under ACRES is more than 50% of the total arable area the farmer will receive his/her ACRES payment, but where the farmer is non-compliant with the requirements of GAEC 7 a sanction will be applied if the farmer has selected catch crops as an alternative to crop rotation and diversification,” a Department spokesperson said.

This means there is no leeway in crop diversification requirements this season, despite a decline in winter cropping due to wet weather, a seed shortage directly impacting the ability to plant three crops and the Department’s intention to increase tillage area.