NFU combinable crops board chairman Mike Hambly explains why farmers must tell their stories on how and why they use plant protection products...
More than 25,000 farmers are attending this year’s Cereals event here in Cambridgeshire and most will have been astonished as to the goings-on in Europe these past few weeks. The delays in the reauthorisation of glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world, and one which most UK growers consider essential to their farming system, have dealt us farmers a massive blow.
Glyphosate has provided an effective solution to perennial weed control for many, consigning the scourge of couch grass to the history books. There are few products that farmers use which, if lost, could have a more dramatic effect.
The most disappointing aspect is the political football being played between some EU member states and the Commission. The approval from the EU’s own scientific advisory body, EFSA, which should have seen a standard 15-year approval, was ignored by countries like France, Germany and Italy.
Also worrying is that this whole charade has given desperately needed oxygen to NGOs and campaigners who are undermining the regulatory processes, misrepresenting the evidence and exerting emotional pressure on politicians both here and in Europe.
With so much at stake, my message to farmers here at the Cereals event is that the agricultural industry must work together to prepare our case. One way we can do that is by being vocal. Farmers must have the confidence to talk more about what they do day to day on farm. Their stories will add much-needed balance to the noise around the reauthorisation process for Glyphosate now, and, in future the actives in dozens of other crop protection products.
Next week member states will again be asked to vote and the Commission will ask those states that abstained last time to reconsider. Myself and 1000s of other farmers hope sense will prevail.