NFU president Peter Kendall has branded a cropping regime requirement under CAP reforms as “utter madness”.
Mr Kendall said thousands of growers would be hit by the three-crop rule which requires farms with more than 30ha of arable land to grow three different crops.
See also: More on the three-crop rule
The rule comes into force from 1 January 2015 and Mr Kendall’s outburst came as he raised concerns over the issue with the European Commission.
Describing the rule as “utter madness”, Mr Kendall called on the commission to scrap the rule at the earliest opportunity.
In order to meet the requirements farmers will need to factor the new rule into their cropping plans that are being made now and within the coming months.
Mr Kendall said: “I have had countless calls from members completely at a loss to understand the logic behind this new requirement.”
“It will increase costs, reduce efficiency, increase traffic on rural roads and in some cases could lead to negative environmental consequences. It’s utter madness and should be scrapped at the earliest opportunity.”
Peter Kendall, NFU president
“By far the vast majority of those farmers practice crop rotation or have built up sustainable continuous cropping systems. They have built their businesses to generate efficiencies, moving towards block cropping, contract farming arrangements and share farming agreements. This rule undermines much of those efforts.”
The union president added that the three crop rule went against all of the NFU core policy principles of simplicity, market orientation, and increased efficiency.
“It will increase costs, reduce efficiency, increase traffic on rural roads and in some cases could lead to negative environmental consequences. It’s utter madness and should be scrapped at the earliest opportunity. I am afraid that in the short term, this is unlikely and farmers need to prepare themselves for the rule coming,” Mr Kendal warned.
“I have asked the European Commission to come forward with a proposal to end this rule when it considers ecological focus areas in 2017. The NFU will work through its Brussels office to build alliances with farmers in other member states and I encourage those affected to raise their concerns directly with the MEPs and the candidates for the European Parliament elections in May who, if elected, would be in a position to call for change in Brussels.”
Read more on CAP reform