The NFU agreed that the use of existing measures governing pesticides in the UK to comply with new European legislation was a common-sense solution that will save farmers £100m annually.
The move would also avoid one-off costs of £153m because statutory measures to regulate pesticide use in all cases would not be introduced.
The Government response highlighted its support for the sprayer testing and sprayer operator training schemes developed for pesticides by the Voluntary Initiative.
Manager Patrick Goldsworthy said the advice "strengthened the case for a voluntary approach over more regulation".
The Crop Protection Association (CPA) welcomed the Government's view that only minor changes were needed to meet the requirements of new EU legislation on the sustainable use of pesticides. UK pesticide safety standards are already among the highest in Europe.
Defra concluded that no compelling evidence had been provided to justify further extending existing regulations. It also confirmed that the objective of the new legislation, which is part of the EU Thematic Strategy on Pesticides, was to "bring all member states up to comparable high standards, like those in the UK, to create a level playing field across Europe". The European Sustainable Use Directive comes into force in November.
CPA policy director Dr Anne Buckenham said: "We certainly welcome the new legislation as a means of raising standards across the EU to those already in place in the UK."
NFU vice-president Gwyn Jones added: "As the UK already has existing best practice measures that are proven to work, it makes sense to use them to meet the requirements of the new directive rather than re-invent the wheel and incur the inevitable costs."
- For further details, see www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/pesticides/index.htm.