3-crop rule decision needed soon

A decision on the three-crop rule is needed as soon as possible. Tillage farmers need to be able to plan ahead for the season and make the most economic decisions for their farms.

Tillage farmers are now in limbo as they await to see if the rule will be lifted. AgriLand understands the Department of Agriculture has requested a derogation from the rule from the EU for the 2020 season, but is not aware of any further progress on the matter.

Rain on Sunday and Monday put a stop to field work. Some farmers had made it out with the plough and may have had hopes of planting winter wheat, but chances are getting smaller as time rambles on.

Winter plantings plummeted

Following a wet autumn, an estimated 50% of the winter cropping area was planted for the 2020 season. Teagasc estimates that 79,614ha were planted. This is compared to almost 159,000ha of winter cereals in 2019.

The reduction in winter planting means that farmers have a lot of acres to make up. Many focused on getting one crop in the ground when the weather allowed.

For example, winter barley was a priority for many and so farmers may not have got a second winter crop planted that may have been needed to contribute to their cropping requirements.

Derogation granted in 2018

In 2018, a derogation from the three-crop rule was granted to Irish farmers. Approximately 121,200ha of winter cereals had been planted in the 2017/2018 season. That was down from approximately 139,700ha the season before.

Wet weather prevented the previous year’s target to be met and that wet weather continued into the spring time when rain was still falling in early April, with very little crops planted at that stage.

It was April 11, 2018, when farmers got any inclination that the ban would be lifted and confirmation did not come until much later.

This late notification can seriously affect farmers’ decisions as they might be taking a risk to plant a crop simply to fulfill the three-crop rule requirements. Farmers should be able to plan to sow the crops that will deliver the most profit.

An announcement is needed sooner rather than later on the issue.