Growers' representatives call for urgent improvements in speciality crops registration regime

The heads of three UK farming bodies have written a joint letter to new Defra secretary Owen Paterson urging UK government support for an improved system for registering plant protection products for "minor uses" at EU level.

Owen Paterson - support sought. image: Defra
Owen Paterson - support sought. image: Defra

The letter stated: "Whilst the UK’s off-label system has gone some way to addressing it in the past, more substantive steps are now urgently needed at EU level."

The EU's previous failure to take action on the issue has left UK growers "at a competitive disadvantage compared to those in the US, Australia, New Zealand and many emerging economies", it warned.

To make up for this, the EU should consider emulating the US government's IR-4 Project, it said. Established nearly 50 years ago, IR-4 works to support registration of pest pest controls in fruit, vegetables, ornamental plants and other speciality crops.

The letter concluded: "The UK’s farmers and growers now look to the UK Government to take a leading role in ensuring that action at EU level is both prompt and substantive."

NFU Scotland specialist crops spokesman Russell Brown explained the issue is currently being investigated by the EU’s Directorate for Health and Consumers (DG Sanco).

But he added: "Of the options being looked at, only stronger EU support to establish a programme on minor uses and speciality crops would deliver a more permanent solution."


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