Kicking off the NFU East Midlands’ campaign for the reauthorisation of glyphosate, NFU members hosted UKIP MEP Roger Helmer on farm last week (10 March).
Roger Helmer met farmers and growers at Chris Wray’s farm at Donington, South Lincolnshire to discuss the industry’s call for glyphosate to be re-authorised and to see first-hand the damage losing this vital plant protection product would have on both the industry and the environment.
NFU chairman for Holland (Lincs), Chris Wray, said: “Glyphosate is crucial to my business. Its loss would be a huge blow for our whole industry and the environment. It would bring into question the viability of wheat production on blackgrass infested land with very few alternatives, allowing certain fast breeding weeds to spread unchecked. Glyphosate also allows us to operate a minimum tillage system, where we carry out minimum cultivations, using cover and catch crops to help with soil biology and the glyphosate for weed control. Simply put, this is a product that we can’t afford to lose.”
Members urged Mr Helmer to help the industry retain glyphosate for use across all UK farming types and sectors.
Responding, Mr Helmer said: “I am absolutely 100 per cent behind you on glyphosate’s future use. I am fully aware of the issues and how much more difficult life would be for you without glyphosate.”
Mr Helmer said he would also oppose any attempt to prevent the use of this important tool for the farming industry.
Members were pleased to hear Mr Helmer say he understood that if glyphosate is banned, farmers would have to resort to other methods of weed control, involving repetitive manual labour, multiple cultivations of the soil, requiring considerable energy input and greatly increasing soil erosion risk, or resorting to more hazardous herbicide products.
Walking around Chris Wray’s fields, Mr Helmer saw first-hand how blackgrass can affect wheat production and why we would need 546,000 hectares more land (3.4 times the size of London) to grow the same amount of food as we produce today.
Following the farm walk, Mr Helmer reiterated his support for glyphosate and its continued use and agreed that he and his party would vote for the reauthorisation, if required.