THE NATIONAL Farmers Union has called the government‘s decision not to introduce no-spray buffer zones a victory for professional farmers.

“I‘m particularly pleased that Alun Michael has taken a decision based on sound science and good practice,” said NFU president Tim Bennett.

“I hope this sets a trend with the government, with the raft of new environmental regulations coming through.” 

He said that it had not been an easy victory, however, and winning it had largely been due to being able to prove, through crop assurance, that farmers keep accurate spray records.

NFU deputy president Peter Kendall said he was confident the Royal Commission study would vindicate the scientific evidence that pesticides pose very little health risk to bystanders.

“I understand the government needs to verify the science. It‘s a good way to silence the critics.”

But Mr Bennett warned farmers at the HSBC seminar at Cereals 2004 that they need to address concerns the public have over pesticide use.

“This is an issue that won‘t go away,” he warned.

“We must have the confidence to tell people what we do and promote the good practice we follow.

“We‘re always on the back foot defending our industry. It‘s time we got on the front foot.”

The Crop Protection Association also welcomed the decision not to introduce buffer zones.

“We remain fully committed to promoting best practice to ensure all those who use our products do so responsibly,” said CPA chief executive Peter Sanguinetti.