ENVIRONMENT Agency chief executive Barbara Young says she is in favour of a modest pesticide tax provided it is well designed and recycled back into the industry to support more environmental initiatives.

Baroness Young made the statement at a seminar on farming and the environment at The Royal Show.

She thereby provoked the counter-argument from National Farmers Union deputy president Peter Kendall that such a tax would penalise those efficient and forward-looking farmers who have already made the efforts and investments to clean up their act.

Introducing a tax on pesticides would in effect mean that these farmers would be taxed twice, Mr Kendall said, arguing that the farming industry should be allowed the possibility to adopt a proactive and positive approach to environment issues.

The need for farmers to be proactive in their environmental efforts was emphasised also by Sir Don Curry and English Nature‘s senior agriculture spokesman Alastair Rutherford.

They both stressed that farmers should get involved voluntarily as soon as possible in order to avert tighter legislation further down the road.

“Around 28,000 farms are involved in agri-environment schemes by now. These farms are pockets of good environmental practice, and the challenge now is for these pockets to be joined up,” said Sir Don.