The NFU is to step up its campaign against EU pesticide proposals, arguing that existing safeguards and voluntary measures are adequate enough to guarantee that crop sprays will be used safely and responsibly by UK farmers.

EU plans are disproportionate, impractical and highly bureaucratic, according to the union.

Commenting on the campaign, NFU vice-president Paul Temple said: “The draft Pesticides Directive would have a serious impact on costs of production and crop yields, without producing any worthwhile benefits in how crop sprays are used.”

The industry has already voluntarily adopted many of the EU’s proposed measures, such as operator training, sprayer testing and residential buffer zones, all achieved as part of the Voluntary Initiative, adds Mr Temple.

“The EU would be much better advised to concentrate its efforts on bringing practice in other parts of the Europe up to the high levels that apply in the UK.”