10 March 1998
NFU concerned about green tax
By FWi staff
ANY new taxes on pesticide and fertiliser use in next weeks Budget could be the final straw for farmers still reeling from the effects of the strong pound, the National Farmers Union has warned.
The NFU has written to the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, urging him to consider the devastating effect an environmental tax could have on farm incomes.
Last week, FWi and FARMERS WEEKLY reported that the Chancellor may introduce a tax on pesticides and fertilisers from 50% to 125% in his March Budget.
Aimed at reducing pesticide abuse by farmers, the tax could be introduced as soon as April 1999, according to the British Agrochemical Association (BAA).
If the new taxes are imposed, the BAA claims cereal growers are likely to cut grass weed herbicide inputs by up to a third.
In his letter to the Chancellor, NFU president Ben Gill, re-iterated concerns voiced in the NFUs original Budget submission that any such taxes would put British farmers at an even greater disadvantage in Europe and would not be effective environmentally.
Mr Gill said farming was already making great strides in meeting the environmental demands placed upon it. He said the imposition of further costs should not even be considered without substantial research and the fullest consultation, particularly when the industry finds itself in the midst of an economic crises.
“I believe such research will reveal that taxes of this type are unlikely to cut use and have any significant environmental effect but rather would be another step in making UK agriculture less competitive on global markets,” he added.