Fruit sector continues red tape protest

The British Independent Fruit Growers Association (BIFGA) has continued its ongoing campaign against red tape and its associated costs to growers with a strong submission to the Chemicals Regulation Directorate.

Responding to the consultation on the draft national action plan for the sustainable use of pesticides, BIFGA committee member John Tobutt said the cost of training and assessing pesticide operators falls particularly highly on small businesses.

"A main issue is the extortionate fees imposed by the awarding body for issuing the certification," he said.

Tobutt pointed out that while a combined theory and practical driving test costs £63 to sit, the cost for the industry standard PA1 and PA6 tests is £210.

He also described as "excessive" the cost of application equipment inspections, particularly for small businesses and those in remote areas. He put the total cost of a single inspection at around £200, which again compares unfavourably with the £54 cost of a car MOT.

The draft national action plan, part of the UK's obligation under the EU Pesticides Framework Directive, claimed there is a "healthy market" in the provision of training, assessment and inspection services - a claim that BIFGA disputes.

Submissions to the consultation on the plan ended on 22 October, with a revised plan expected next year.

Cutting red tape - Call for rhetoric to be turned into action

British Independent Fruit Growers Association chairman John Breach has written to business and enterprise minister Michael Fallon, environment minister Owen Paterson and farming minister David Heath calling for Government rhetoric on cutting red tape to be turned into action.

Breach pointed out that growers face a combined burden of statutory checks and compliance with assured produce schemes. He cited Defra's own Farming Regulation Task Force report, which listed more than 200 forms and records that "a typical large horticultural business" is required to keep.

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