NFU chief combinable crops adviser Guy Gagen is urging farmers to showcase the environmental work they do on farm to the public, in a bid to raise the public profile of productive agriculture’s role in environmentally responsible food production.
In a debate on crop protection at CropTec 2016 today, Mr Gagen told the audience that farmers need to be ready to talk to their MPs, MEPs , local politicians and their community about the work they do for the environment and promoting biodiversity on their farm.
The NFU has been meeting with both domestic and European politicians, Defra officials and stakeholders to deliver the message that it is crucial farmers have access to the right inputs so their farm businesses can be competitive, profitable and progressive.
Mr Gagen stressed the importance of creating a link between the farmers’ use of crop protection products and its role in their business, to aid the public perception of how plant protection products are used in agricultural businesses.
He said: “We still have to deal with regulatory pressures coming through the EU, these are not going away, and without key products the situation for farmers could become very serious, very quickly.
“The NFU is working hard to make the regulations work for farmers but there is an increasingly political element in conflict with the scientific evidence. This means farming has to be present in the public debate and so we need farmers to talk about their work.
“Both UK and European politicians have provided forums for us to deliver our message on plant protection products but they want to hear direct from farmers on how important these products are on their farms.
“There are simple, but effective, measures available to promote biodiversity and protect water such as keeping slug pellets and herbicides out of the water and participation in stewardship schemes such as the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.”
Mr Gagen emphasised the high input costs that farmers in the UK deal with and that it is likely many arable farmers, on average, will be making a net loss again this year.
He said: “Something has to give on these costs – farmers cannot continue to absorb them forever. It’s concerning that once again many arable farmers will be facing a net loss and something needs to change and alleviate this pressure.”