The Environment Secretary has confirmed that the government intends to relax the crop diversification requirements (known as the ”two crop” or “three crop rule”) for farmers for 2020.

The three crop rule was brought over from EU law when the UK left the EU on 31 January, and requires farmers managing more than 30 hectares of arable land required to grow at least three different crops on that land. Farmers with over 10ha of arable land had to grow at least two different crops.

With large swathes of farmland in England under floodwater for most of February, the government is pursuing plans through Parliament to relax this rule for all farmers for 2020 so those who are unable to access their flooded land to plant spring crops over the coming weeks and months will not be unfairly penalised.

This is welcome news as the unprecedented wet weather has made it very difficult to establish crops in the correct ratios to satisfy the rules. Farmers were faced with the prospect of having to plant crops knowing they will fail, just to satisfy the RPA, so common sense has, for once, has prevailed.

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