NFU's Pettitt calls for growers to speak out over proposals

The NFU's Sarah Pettitt has issued a "call to arms" to farmers and growers, asking them to join a two-stage letter-writing campaign to MEPs throughout this autumn.

Speaking at the NFU/HDC-organised pesticides conference at Stockbridge Technology Centre last week, she said letters should be written to environment committee MEPs by the end of October, prior to their vote on pesticide proposals.

Pettitt recommended a "two-pronged approach". This involves thanking the MEPs who voted against extended cut-off criteria during the first reading and urging for further support. The second part involves approaching the MEPs who voted in support of extended cut-off criteria, which would increase the number of pesticides lost, stating the negative effect it would have on growers' businesses and asking them to back the European Council's common position.

Pettitt said: "Letters are better than emails and personalised letters are better than standardised letters, which often get put in the bin." She added that all letters should include a demand that a full EU-wide impact assessment is carried out once the cut-off criteria have been agreed but before the legislation becomes law.

The NFU said the second raft of lobbying letters should not go out to all MEPs until November, a few weeks before the plenary vote.

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MEPs who need to be asked to continue to support UK growers

John Bowis, Con., London; Caroline Jackson, Con., South West; Martin Callanan, Con., North East; Philip Bushil-Mathews, Con., West Midlands; Robert Sturdy, Con., East Anglia.

MEPs who need to be asked to vote against any stricter amendments

Glenis Willmott, Lab., East Midlands; Linda Macavan, Lab., Yorkshire & Humberside; Chris Davies, Lib-Dem, North West; Caroline Lucas, Green, South East; Jill Evans, Plaid Cymru, Wales; Eluned Morgan, Lab., Wales.

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