The NFU is calling on its members to write to their MEPs and demand that they reject an agreement reached in Brussels this week to ban large numbers of pesticides.

The deal was struck by officials from the EU Commission, the European parliament and the French presidency on Wednesday night (17 December) in a co-called “trialogue meeting”.

In particular, it introduces new “cut off” criteria, so that active ingredients that have potentially hazardous effects are automatically struck off, regardless of the actual risk they present to humans or the environment.

A recent study by the Pesticides Safety Directorate concluded that between 14% and 23% of products would be affected, including certain triazoles used to control septoria, and mancozeb, crucial for potato blight.

The full European parliament is now due to vote on the trialogue package when it reconvenes in the week beginning the 12 January.

If it accepts it, the package will then be rubber-stamped by the agriculture council later in January.

But the NFU is concerned that the latest deal goes further than the compromise reached by EU farm ministers last June, and will take out more key pesticides as a result. Horticultural crops in particular will be vulnerable to losses of herbicides.

“We cannot support measures which reduce the tools available to farmers and growers to produce crops, particularly at a time when we need to be increasing food production, not restricting it,” said NFU vice-president Paul Temple.

“We are calling on members to write to their local MEPs and ask them to reject this deal at the plenary vote in early January.”