17 May 2000
6m for push against spray tax

By FWi staff

PESTICIDE makers plan to spend over 6 million in the next three years trying to persuade the government to finally scrap plans for a pesticides tax.

New proposals from the Crop Protection Agency – formerly the British Agrochemicals Association – contain measures to tackle areas of government concern.

Ministers are worried about the effects of pesticides on the environment, biodiversity and water, says stewardship manager Patrick Goldsworthy.

The expense of the plan, which is likely to be passed on to users, should be seen against the 150m a year a pesticide tax could cost, he says.

CPA hopes a combination of industry and farmer initiatives will lay the pesticide tax to rest once and for all.

Changes most likely to affect farmers in the short-term would involve more training to improve application practice and operator certification.

Pesticide users could expect more environmental information on products, better labelling and more guidance on nozzle choice and performance.

A manual or CD-Rom would also be produced to help agronomists, following a review of environmental, biodiversity and conservation information needs.

And a pesticide stewardship task force, with agrochemical and broader farming representation, would update the government on progress.

The association also hopes the government will review mandatory operator training and certification procedures, and help make product labelling information clearer.

“There is an opportunity for better co-ordination between the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency to avoid mixed messages,” said Mr Goldsworthy.

Plans for a pesticide tax have attracted fierce criticism from agrochemical companies and the National Farmers Union.

In Last Novembers pre-budget statement, Chancellor Gordon Brown said the government favoured a partnership approach with industry to reduce the impact of pesticides.

However, he warned that a pesticide tax would still be considered as a last resort.

This threat appeared to recede when in a speech to the NFU annual general meeting Tony Blair indicated the government would pursue a partnership approach.

But weeks later the issue was revived when a cross-party environmental audit committee report revealed that Treasury minister Stephen Timms had indicated a tax could still be introduced.

CPA proposals will receive final consideration on 14 July, with an announcement expected in the autumn pre-Budget statement.