25 April 2000
Spray tax decision in months
By FWi staff
MINISTERS could decide within the next few months whether to introduce a pesticides tax as a means of encouraging farmers to use fewer agrochemicals.
Government advisors have embarked on a three-month consultation following the submission of a document to the Department of the Environment.
The document outlines alternative proposals from the British Agrochemicals Association (BAA), which claims that a pesticide tax would “cripple” farmers.
It pledges that the BAA, which represents agrochemical manufacturers, will promote research aimed at reducing the effect of pesticides on the environment.
Manufacturers will provide better information so farmers and advisers can make better decisions on the best course of action when using pesticides.
The BAA will also undertake to raise the standards of advice from its members so that pesticide use is combined with environmental awareness.
John Drinkwater, BAA chairman, said: “Ministers will conclude that voluntary partnerships are a better way of solving environmental concerns.”
BAA members would implement the package vigorously if it was accepted, and encourage others in the crop production sector to do likewise, he claimed.
The package is the outcome of discussions over the past four months with a range of partner organisations which produce or use crop-protection products.
Such an approach was requested by the Treasury in February as a basis for further consultation, said Mr Drinkwater.
It followed the Governments announcement that it would not introduce a pesticide tax in the Budget this March.
Ben Gill, president of the NFU, warned that the threat of the pesticides tax was still looming large over British agriculture.
The removal of the threat was only on condition that the industry put forward other suggestions as to how pesticides use may be reduced, he added.
“It has been made clear that the status quo is not an option,” said Mr Gill.
“All sectors of industry have to come up with a scheme to deliver a demonstrable reduction in the environmental impact of pesticide use if we are to lift the threat of the tax once and for all.