DAERA Minister Edwin Poots has told Northern Ireland's growers that he will bring forward a derogation from the Crop Diversification requirements for the 2020 scheme year.

Mr Poots said: “This winter has seen extremely high levels of rainfall, particularly over the December to February period, with record amounts being recorded for the month of February.

“I understand the difficulties that this has caused for arable farmers with plantings delayed or abandoned. In these circumstances, I believe that many farmers could not comply with the crop diversification requirements or could do so only with great difficulty," said Mr Poots.

"Therefore I intend to introduce a derogation from all the Crop Diversification requirements for 2020 scheme year and will bring forward the necessary legislation to the Assembly in due course for approval.”

Crop Diversification was introduced in 2015 as part of the Greening requirements under the 2013 Common Agricultural Policy reforms. In general, it requires farmers who have between 10-30 hectares of arable land to grow at least two different crops, and farmers with more than 30 hectares of arable land to grow three crops.

Derogations from this are possible under Article 69 of Regulation 1307/2013 in order to resolve specific problems which are both necessary and justifiable in an emergency.