New report underlines importance of plant protection to British food

The availability of iconic British foods could be drastically reduced according to an independent report released today by farm business consultants Andersons.

The report, commissioned by the NFU, AIC and CPA1, looked at the economic impact of plant protection products (PPPs) on UK agriculture and the wider economy. It found that the production of apples, fresh carrots and frozen peas in the UK is under threat as a result of loss or restricted use of active ingredients2 in PPPs which safeguard healthy growth.

The implications for the control of weeds, disease and pests in key UK crops would also have an impact on the Gross Value Added (GVA) of UK agriculture, including horticulture, which would fall by £1.6billion a year3. Andersons’ assessment of job losses in agricultural wholesale, the supply chain and the wider food and drink industry revealed up to 44,000 jobs could be lost if these active ingredients were no longer available.

The report also found that the UK’s farming profit would drop by 36 per cent from current levels, resulting in structural readjustment in the farming industry4.

NFU vice president, Guy Smith said: “We have been warning that in the lifetime of the current European Parliament, we would face significant threats to PPPs. This important and timely report has confirmed and added clarity to the negative impacts that losses and restrictions on PPPs would have on UK food production, on farm and throughout the supply chain.

“It is absolutely essential that farmers have regulation that is risk-based and that it follows sound science to ensure the farming sector keeps growing and contributing to the £97billion UK food and drink industry. For this to happen we need government at both UK and EU level to put British food production at the heart of policy-making across all government departments.”

Nick von Westenholz, CPA chief executive officer, said: “It provides a clear picture of the implications of the flawed system that governs pesticide use in the EU.

“Hopefully European policy-makers will now realise how imperative it is to make a proper assessment of risk and impact when they take decisions affecting food production, and to make sure they foster rather than stifle innovation. If not, farmers can no longer expect to benefit from increasingly targeted and effective crop protection products as industry diverts investment away from Europe.”

David Hutchinson, AIC Strategy Group member, said: “This report highlights the serious effects of policy and regulatory decisions that are not based on sound science. Any crop protection product should be assessed in the wider context of a food production strategy, so that agronomists have at their disposal both cultural controls and a range of chemistry to help farmers and growers sustain UK food production.

“A big concern is that the current EU policy making and regulatory systems are heavily influenced by political considerations and sound science often comes second in assessing agricultural technologies – old and new. In the meantime farming and the wider economy of our food industry will continue to suffer and be placed at an ever increasing competitive disadvantage to those countries outside the EU.”

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