Farmers hail decision on use of pesticides

ARABLE farmers have given a warm welcome to the announcement that the Government has ruled out any further regulation of pesticides.

A statement from Defra said that there was no compelling evidence to justify further controls to improve the safety of pesticide use in Britain.

Following a lengthy consultation, Defra said that the current safety guidelines in the UK were among Europe's highest and that compliance with the forthcoming EU Thematic Strategy on Pesticides would require only a few minor alterations.

Defra under-secretary Lord Henley said: "We have to protect the public and the environment from harm, and we'll do so by following sound scientific and other robust evidence.

"By making a small number of changes to our existing approach, we can continue to help feed a growing global population with high-quality food that's affordable, while minimising the risks of using pesticides."

Further consultation will take place next summer to ensure that new legislation is in place by November 2011.

The news that existing voluntary measures and legal requirements governing pesticides in the UK will be largely used to meet new European legislation was described by the National Farmers Union as a "common sense solution".

Its vice president Gwyn Jones said the news was "a just reward for the farmers and growers who have worked hard with voluntary measures to ensure the safe use of essential pesticides and crop protection sprays".

"This approach is working and will continue to work because we recognise that best practice advice continues to evolve. Farmers are proud that standards here in the UK are world-leading and all along we have said that this new legislation should bring all EU Member States up to the same high levels of competency.

"We should remember that pesticides are a vital part of modern crop production. They help British farmers grow sufficient quantities of safe and affordable food which is essential if we are to help meet rising world demand for food while impacting less on the environment."

A recent report by Cranfield University showed that without pesticides, household expenditure on food and drink could rise by as much as 40 per cent or 70bn nationally.

The NFU viewpoint was echoed by the Crop Protection Association (CPA) with its director of policy Dr Anne Buckenham, its director of policy, saying: "The UK leads the way in Europe on responsible pesticide use through stewardship programmes."

New plant's wheat needs

YORKSHIRE'S farmers have been handed a boost with the opening of a new bioethanol gas plant which will need more than a million tonnes of wheat a year to operate.

The new Vivergo plant, set to begin operating at Saltend in Hull next year, will need 1.1 million tonnes of wheat a year with operator Frontier Agriculture, keen to source all of the wheat it needs from the county.

The 200m plant is a joint venture between BP, British Sugar and DuPont.

CW 18/12/10