Disappointment As EU Vote Goes Against Scottish Agriculture

Ban on use of Plant Protection Products on Ecological Focus Areas to come into force
A vote in the European Parliament yesterday (14 June) rejected the views of the Parliament’s own agricultural committee and will now see a ban for the use of Plant Protection Products (PPPs) on Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) become effective for claim year 2018.

The plan to ban PPPs on EFA crops had been strongly opposed by NFU Scotland, fellow farming unions and several member states – a position that was accepted by the agri-committee of the European Parliament two weeks ago.

In a vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, a majority of the MEPs who voted followed the lead of their committee. Unfortunately, with 78 MEPs not present at the vote, the 376 who voted in favour fell short of the required absolute majority.

While there are many other elements in the CAP simplification proposals for Greening rules that could be of benefit to Scottish farmers, NFU Scotland points out that the onus is now on Scottish Government as to whether these will be adopted.

NFU Scotland’s understanding is that Professor Griggs Group has already made recommendations concerning Greening changes announced by Cabinet Secretary in February. The Group should now also be able to consider implementation of the changes agreed in Brussels yesterday. Decisions need to be made very soon, as farmers are already planning their land use and cropping for 2018.

Speaking from Brussels, where he is meeting other EU farming unions, NFU Scotland’s President Andrew McCornick said: “The European Parliament’s decision to reject its own agri-committee’s views on the use of PPPs on EFAs waters down the genuine simplification benefits that could have been delivered and will make life more difficult for Scottish farmers, not easier.

“It is a credit to our lobbying effort that we secured a majority in the voting chamber but the number of MEPs absent meant, disappointingly, no overall majority.

“That means the CAP simplification package is likely to be in place for 2018 with a ban on the use of PPPs on some EFAs, including areas with catch crops, green-cover or nitrogen-fixing crops (NFCs). The ban does have implications for autumn sown NFCs, for example, peas and beans that could be sown this autumn to be claimed on the 2018 Single Application Form as EFA NFC.

“Clarification is still needed on whether PPPs can be used during the establishment of these crops. Clarification is also needed on whether the rules on spot application of PPPs on EFA fallow will be affected.

“That said, there is much of the simplification package that is positive. We will be lobbying the Scottish Government to implement those positive elements of the package into Scotland’s greening rules, widening the list of EFA options.

“One measure that is not optional is the merging of the field margin and buffer strip options and that is welcome.”

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