Memorandum submitted by the Crop Protection
The Crop Protection Association is the trade
body representing the 47 companies that manufacture or distribute
crop protection products for agriculture, horticulture, forestry,
home garden and other uses in the United Kingdom. Its aim is to
promote recognition of the role and benefits of crop protection,
including biotechnology, and in particular its contribution to
the production of affordable, high quality food within a viable
and sustainable rural economy.
1. THE PROSPECTS
2000 REFORM OF
As part of the EU, the UK is ultimately bound
by decisions taken in Brussels. The present debate therefore needs
to take place within the context of Europe particularly the reform
of the CAP.
Europe provides a single market of 375 million
people that should be used to provide our farmers with the full
range of trading opportunities. Currently, the CAP injects £3
billion a year into the countryside. Changes in the regime will
have to be approached with sensitivity if they are to avoid significant
adverse effects. However, although the production subsidies are
part of the present CAP the public increasingly questions them.
They are costly and fail in the delivery of environmental incentives
that the public and politicians wish to be available to farmers
The Crop Protection Association believes that:
The mid-term review of the Agenda
2000 reform of the CAP should build on the "second pillar"
of rural development with a greater share of this coming to the
The Government should use the agri-monetary
compensation mechanism to bring UK producers up to the level of
those competing with our farmers in the home market;
Every effort should be made to maintain
an open market approach;
The Government, in conjunction with
the European Parliament, should develop an EU-wide safety net
of support that could be used if production supports decline and
world markets continue to be volatile;
The enlargement of the EU must be
managed in such a way that the CAP is not used to restructure
the economies of the new members at the expense of the rural economies
of the existing ones.
Any changes in the CAP and Europe's WTO commitments
must encourage a viable UK agriculture. It will be essential to
ensure robust transitional arrangements. Full payment of agro-monetary
compensation will be required to benefit cereal and sugar producers.
The key will be in dealing with the mid-term review of CAP Rural
Development and Regional Policy in Europeit is vital that
UK farmers are given a fairer share of EU funds. In the short-term
the greatest determinant of the competitive position of UK farming
will be the value of sterling. This will become critical if the
UK were to enter the "eurozone" as a full member. Should
this happen at current rates a further downsizing of farming in
the UK may be inevitable. On balance the implementation of the
Euro access the current members will probably make UK agriculture
UK farmers must remain competitive as trade
liberalisation occurs. The enlargement of the EU and the next
WTO round must take care of the interests of UK farmers. Any revision
of the sugar regime under the European Commission's "Everything
but Arms" proposals must take full account of their impact
on the EU sugar market.
Additionally, farmers must not be subjected
to new regulations before these have been determined to be proportional
to the risks. Regulations should only be necessary either as positive
incentives or where voluntary schemes have failed. Care must be
taken not to "gold-plate" European regulations and directives
or to anticipate changes in regulations before they apply to other
EU members. The cost of all regulation designed to improve public
safety must be met from central funds and not be passed to individual
2. HOW BETTER
We believe that profitable and competitive farming
should meet the environmental goals expected by the general public.
We support all campaigns that encourage farmers and growers to
use resources responsibly together with voluntary initiatives
such as those which reduce energy consumption in the glasshouse
sector and which lessen the impacts of crop protection products.
The measures contained in the voluntary package of measures agreed
with the Government in place of a pesticide tax should have a
substantial role in reducing the environmental impacts of crop
protection and protecting biodiversity. They must be given enough
time to show that they are delivering the environmental benefits
that the Government is seeking.
We believe that monies available from the EU
Rural Development funds should be used by Government to assist
the initiatives contained in the voluntary package of measures
in place of a pesticide tax. It is clear that greater awareness
of environmental issues and biodiversity is an added requirement
expected of UK farmers. As such it is a regional and environmental
issue. Training and other technology processes could be funded
in this way as a "pump priming" mechanism.
More farmers should be encouraged to participate
in conservation schemes. Increased funding of the stewardship
schemes will help but simpler schemes that target whole-farm conservation
practices will be particularly useful in the arable sector. The
adoption of conservation headlands has the potential to reverse
many of the adverse trends in wildlife that have occurred in the
past four decades due to changes in production techniques.
We believe that the Government should continue
to be equitable in its application of new wildlife and SSSI protection
laws so that farmers can continue to gain reasonable returns from
designated countryside. This will be payment for their labours
rather than compensation for income foregone. The creation of
new SSSIs should be sympathetic to farming interests or provide
adequate compensation for any negative impacts on the farm business.
The Government should not extend cross-compliance
rules on modulation requirements unless these are similarly applied
elsewhere in the EU. Any monies taken from production payments
should be used to fund measures that "conserve" the
countryside sympathetically. Equally we believe that there must
be consistent and proportionate implementation of European Directives
on environment and conservation so that UK farmers are not disadvantaged.
The Rural Development Programme should have continued growth in
funding from the Government with specific targets such as those
to assist with diversification and re-training. The greatest challenge
will be to stimulate local leadership and encourage local initiatives.
The RDAs will have a crucial role in this, although they require
greater participation from rural members and organisations with
3. THE OPPORTUNITIES
The opportunities and difficulties faced by
agriculture from possible reductions in production subsidies will
vary according to the time-scale of any changes that are made.
With the current economic difficulties facing the industry, the
sudden removal of production subsidies would cause many businesses
to fail. This is most marked in the livestock sectors but it would
be similar, albeit to a lesser extent, in the arable sector. However,
it should be noted that some sectors do not at present receive
such production subsidies. These include pigs and most parts of
the horticultural sector. For these latter groups the transition
away from production subsidies would not be traumatic.
In the UK we would expect this change to result
in larger, more specialised farms that would be growing commodity
crops such as cereals and pulses for a world market. Although
all of the EU countries would be making, one presumes, identical
changes at the same time this would not be true of other major
producers. The USA would still be in a dominant position for some
crops and their growers would probably still be in receipt of
faintly camouflaged production subsidies.
An example is often quoted to show that a rapid
transition away from production subsidies can be made. This is
where the New Zealand government moved away from supports to the
livestock industries. Although this was successful in the long-term,
it resulted in a move to larger sheep and beef units and a high
level of diversification into new crops. Some of the smaller family
farms were lost. There is no exact read-over to the UK situation
because production payments were not generally replaced by environmental
In the UK any change away from production payments
would have to be dove-tailed to a range of well-designed schemes
that would allow a flow of environmental payments to the same
farms with reduced incomes from the loss of the former payments.
Such a transition is more than likely to result in deficiencies
or inequalities between the old and new systems. Equally, any
such environmental schemes and payments would rely on careful
designs and well conceived objectives. In the current debate there
is often a lack of focus on the environmental remediation or improvements
that are being sought within the farming landscape.
We believe that this transition would be challenging
at the UK level and extremely difficult across the whole EU community
due to the massive range in farming types and local conditions.
17 December 2001