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Specialist Growers Seek Plant Protection Help

On behalf of the nation’s growers, NFU Scotland has written to DEFRA urging it to support the industry’s position regarding the availability of specialist plant protection products (PPP).

A joint letter to new Defra Minister Owen Paterson, co-signed by NFU and the Ulster Farmers’ Union, expresses concern at the availability of suitable PPPs for ‘minor uses’ and speciality crops.

Pesticide manufacturers are deterred from developing new products for small but high added value markets due to the exceptionally stringent, lengthy and costly EU approval process.  Without support for developing specialist PPPs, growers remain reliant on generally available products gaining approval for minor uses – something that can also be time consuming and costly.

This is a long-standing issue across the EU, and whilst the UK’s off-label system for approving products has gone some way to addressing it in the past, NFU Scotland believes more substantive steps are now needed urgently at EU level. 

Defra support is being sought for a proposal that would see the EU put in place a €6 million per annum European package that would support and co-ordinate the development of minor use products based on the long-running and successful IR-4 programme that operates in America.

NFU Scotland Specialist Crops spokesman, Russell Brown said:
“Europe has consistently failed to deliver a convincing package of measures that addresses the importance that specialist growers may attach to a relatively a small number of plant protection products. 

“The availability of a certain product may only affect a small number of growers working in a specialist area of fruit, veg or horticulture, but it can have a significant impact on their business.  That impact is most acutely felt if no alternatives are available or if other products come at a significantly higher cost.

“The availability of such products elsewhere in the world can also place UK farmers and growers at a competitive disadvantage compared to those in the US, Australia, New Zealand and many emerging economies.

“In light of the scale and urgency of the problem, and the overwhelming economic and agricultural arguments in favour of action, we are disappointed by the continued failure of the European Commission to report on how it intends to address the issue.

“This is currently being investigated by Europe’s Directorate for Health and Consumers, DG Sanco.  Of the options being looked at, only stronger EU support to establish a programme on minor uses and speciality crops would deliver a more permanent solution.

“The American Minor Crop Pest Management Program - or IR-4 for short – has delivered significant benefit to growers in the States for 45 years.  Every dollar spent on the programme has generated $192 in value when those products are used effectively out in the field.  That is compelling evidence.

“We believe there is every justification for a strong system in Europe to similarly harness the huge potential of minor uses and speciality crop PPPs and help specialist growers play their part in the sustainable intensification of production.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 119/12


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