Fears are growing that plans to ‘lift and shift’ EU regulations into UK law through the Great Repeal Bill could see farmers lose up to 97 per cent of the herbicides they currently use.
At the NFU’s latest council meeting, Ali Capper, chair of the union’s horticulture board, said Conservative MPs had promised during the election campaign that no changes would be made to EU law for at least three years after Brexit in 2019.
This would mean all active ingredients which are due for re-approval up to that point could be at risk because of the EU’s hazard-based approach to plant protection products (PPPs).
Ms Capper said the plans to ensure stability seemed sensible in isolation, but added: “Between now and 2022, almost everything we use on farm is up for re-approval.
“90 per cent of all insecticides, 93 per cent of all fungicides and 97 per cent of all herbicides are up for re-approval between now and 2022.
“We have to get our Government to understand the scale of this challenge.”
She called on Ministers to take a holistic, risk-based approach to PPPs after Brexit.
Concerns were also raised during the meeting about a lack of knowledge on the part of other member states, particularly in Eastern Europe, which could be potential allies on the issue.
Dr Chris Hartfield, senior regulatory affairs adviser in the new plant health team, said the NFU had been working to educate its European counterparts by sharing resources with them.
“A lot of other member states do not have the experience of getting involved in individual active issues, but the issue is becoming so critical now they see the car crash which is going to happen and they are waking up to it”, he added.
The 2017 Labour Party manifesto, which promised a ban on neonicotinoids, was flagged up as another serious concern in light of the election result.
Dr Hartfield recognised the problem, saying the NFU ‘had to start talking to more Labour MPs’.
“We have already started in the area of neonicotinoids, and where we see Labour MPs who have been given misinformation, we are going back to them and trying to give them our understanding of the issues”, he added.