MOTtest boom fuelled by fear of input taxes

26 April 2002

MOTtest boom fuelled by fear of input taxes

By Mike Williams

THE threat of a government-imposed "pesticide tax" is believed to be one of the reasons why applications for the sprayer "MOT" test scheme are running at record levels.

The number of tests carried out so far this year has already topped the 700 mark, easily the highest mid-May total so far and close to the 864 tests carried out during the whole of last year.

Government plans to impose a special tax to persuade more efficient and sparing use of pesticides have been shelved to allow time for the industry to raise its own standards on a voluntary basis. Sprayer testing on a regular basis will be a key factor in averting the tax, which could cost the farming industry £125m a year according to one estimate.

The sprayer tests managed by the Agricultural Engineers Association will form the basis for what is expected to become an annual voluntary test programme under plans currently being discussed by the AEA, farming unions and organisations representing agricultural and environmental interests.

Duncan Russell, who runs the test scheme for the AEA, believes concern about the tax threat has already persuaded more farmers to use the test scheme, boosting this years tests total. Part of the increase may also be due to some tests being deferred from last year because of disease concerns, he says.

All of which must be good news for the industry but Mr Russell concedes there are still a vast number of growers who have yet to put their sprayers through the test.

"There is an inevitability that only the "good" guys will bring their sprayers along for testing," he says. "Creating an appropriate incentive for others to conform is essential if the scheme is to be a success. One financial incentive could come from the big supermarkets and processors who now demand higher standards of pesticide management from their suppliers.

"Farmers and contractors are also increasingly aware of the potential cost of inaccurate spray application and of downtime if repairs are needed during the season. This is also encouraging more farmers and contractors to have their equipment tested." &#42

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