Brown expected to drop pesticide tax success?

5 November 1999




Brown expected to drop pesticide tax success?

AN announcement on government plans for a pesticide tax is expected in the Chancellors pre-budget statement next Tuesday.

Reports suggest that the proposed tax will be scrapped by Chancellor Gordon Brown following widespread protest and fears it could drive many cash-strapped farmers out of business.

A Treasury spokeswoman said: "You can be pretty confident that there will be some mention of the pesticide tax in the Chancellors pre-budget statement."

She could not comment on reports that the tax would be abandoned. But other sources admitted there was a strong feeling within the government that it should not proceed with the tax.

A spokesman for the British Agrochemicals Association, which has campaigned against the tax, said he was hopeful the government would see that the tax would not help the environment and would further hit farm incomes. But he added: "Dont count your chickens until theyve hatched."

The Country Landowners Association called on members to write to their MPs and demand the tax be dropped. It dismissed suggestions the tax should be shelved until farming incomes improved. "It is not only nonsense now, it would make no sense at any other time," said a spokesman.

"We question the benefits the tax might bring and suggest that it be weighed against the economic and human cost."

The Pesticides Trust, which campaigns on environmental issues concerning pesticides, said if the tax was scrapped it would be looking to see pay-offs in other environmental initiatives.

Spokesman David Buffin said the group would seek increased analysis of food and water, improved monitoring and better information for consumers. He also called for more money to be put up for organic conversion schemes.

Matthew Rayment, rural economist with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: "We would be very disappointed if the pesticide tax is scrapped. It would be a missed opportunity to address some of the problems associated with the decline in farmland birds."

"Given its commitment to environmental taxes, such a decision would undermine the governments green credentials to some extent."

As an alternative, the RSPB would push for more agro-environmental schemes, an adjustment to legislation with more emphasis on pesticide effects on the food chain, and more training in pesticide use. &#42


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