Voluntary Initiative updates management plan to cut growers' paperwork

The Voluntary Initiative (VI) has introduced a new crop protection management plan (CPMP), which aims to cut down the amount of paperwork required by farmers and growers.

VI CPMPs were introduced by the NFU five years ago to encourage growers and farmers to consider the environmental impact of their crop protection activities and make a commitment to reduce them.

However, NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said that, after five years, the NFU felt the CPMPs needed changing.

"If you look at the old plan there's an awful lot of writing involved," he said. "So we have radically changed the structure and the format ... now it is basically (a case of) tick the boxes - yes or no."

To make it even easier for people, there is now the option to complete the plan manually on paper, using Microsoft Excel or online.

The online version will be available from September at www.cpmponline.com.

Raymond said that the problem with paper forms is that people forget to return them or do not realise that the forms need to be posted back to the NFU.

He said: "Let's hope we can enthuse the industry to use the website rather than the pen."

He added that the area covered by CPMPs has declined to 1.3 million hectares, although the number of returns from smaller farms has increased to 4,000.

He attributed the decline in area covered to confusion and disappointment at the exclusion of CPMPs from new stewardship schemes, such as the English Entry Level Scheme - administered by Defra and English Heritage.

He said: "We are in discussions and negotiations with Defra to see if we can develop an alternative."


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