19 January 2000
French input tax this spring

By FWi staff

INPUT taxes will be levied on pesticides used by French farmers this spring, following political agreement late last year.

There are concerns that the British government may follow this path .

At present Britain favours a partnership approach with the pesticide industry to find an alternative to a tax.

But in his pre-budget statement last November Chancellor Gordon Brown did not rule out a pesticide tax, describing it as “a useful tool”.

Luc Lescar of French farmer-funded research organisation ITCF said the French decision “is not a good development for other countries which are resisting a tax”.

The French tax will be levied on manufacturers according to the tonnage of pesticide produced and passed on to farmers in the product price.

“Although the rate will be small to start with, the precedent has been set politically and it could be raised in future,” warned Mr Lescar.

While products are grouped according to perceived environmental impact, in many cases groupings are not as they should be, he added.

“It seems this marks a turning point for farming, which once had a strong say in French politics. Now the environment seems more important.”

Meanwhile, farmers could miss out on the chance to use new strobilurin fungicide trifloxystrobin at the T1 timing, which is recognised as the first spring spraying time for fungicides.

This follows the postponement of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides January meeting.

Manufacturer Novartis is now hoping for approval of the straight product, F279, at a reconvened ACP meeting in late January or early February or at the next scheduled meeting on February 26 at the latest.

A Novartis spokesman remained optimistic that approval could be secured for this product to get it out in time for late T1.

But a formulated mix with cyproconazole is now unlikely before 2001.