THE THREE crop rule has been scrapped by the Scottish Government as part of its Greening requirements for 2021.

Greening regulations – which have been part of direct payment support to farmers and crofters since 2015 and equate to £130m in funding – will continue, but with a new tailor made approach to Scottish agriculture.

The move to scrap the three crop rule was a simplification welcomed as common sense by Scotland's farming union: “NFU Scotland has consistently argued that the EU’s blunt Greening rules were poorly targeted on Scottish environmental issues, so this announcement is a significant step in the right direction," said NFUS president Andrew McCornick. “Scrapping the Crop Diversification requirement (three crop rule) makes for common sense, while the importance of Permanent Grassland and efficient input use should be explored in the context of both climate ambitions and business performance.

"The premise on which the Scottish Government’s Greening proposals are based is that direct support payments will continue in Scotland from 2021 until at least 2024 on the same basis as they do now," he continued. "As a consequence, if environmental conditionality is to be attached to financial support, then NFU Scotland has always made it clear that any required measures must work with the grain of agricultural businesses as well as deliver meaningful environmental outcomes."

The Scottish Government has announced that Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) will be kept in the short term as part of Greening requirement, but will be considered as part of a wider review that will be taken forward as a Programme for Government commitment to ensure that this funding plays its full part in helping farming deliver action on climate change and the environment which better meet Scotland’s needs.

Mr McCornick added: “As for EFAs, the Union has long advocated smarter, more effective options that are also less onerous. If the principle of EFAs is to be retained, then it’s right that farmer-led revisions are made to embrace climate change as well as biodiversity.”

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing commented: “The Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill gives us powers to continue CAP after Brexit, and make improvements that are tailored to suit Scotland’s unique agricultural and rural needs.

“These changes for Greening mark the first steps to implement simplifications and improvements to the administration of CAP schemes, as well as giving farmers reassurance to plan their crops now," he continued.

“We have worked closely with stakeholders and listened to the farming and crofting communities to simplify the schemes we administer. Removing crop diversification from Greening not only does this, but demonstrates our commitment to practices that are favourable for the climate and the environment.

“By working with farmers and crofters to enhance EFAs we can help cut emissions and enhance the environment in a way that is practical for Scottish agriculture. As set out in our Programme for Government, we are committed to a green recovery, and Scotland’s rural economy will be at the heart of that.”

For further information and updated guidance for the 2021 scheme year visit HERE