IFA Grain Chairman Kieran McEvoy said this week’s decision by the European Council requesting the European Commission to provide additional analysis which considers food security when assessing the potential impact of the sustainable use of pesticide reduction proposals (SUR) is a positive development for tillage farmers.
The SUR proposals aim to reduce the use of, and risks associated with, plant protection products across the EU by 50% by 2030, with the potential for a 100% ban in areas deemed ‘sensitive’. These include nitrate vulnerable zones and areas used by the general public.
“The Irish tillage sector is unique at European level, with high annual rainfall making for high plant disease pressure and one of lowest areas of arable cropping in the EU-27. A mandatory EU requirement to cut pesticide use by 50% will destroy the sector overnight, which directly flies in the face of the Irish Government’s objective to grow the tillage sector,” he said.
“The impact of the SUR proposals was made clear to Minister McConalogue during a meeting with an IFA delegation last week. I urged the Minister and his officials to undertake a full assessment of these proposals on Irish cropping systems, which previous EU studies have not done,” he said.
“There must be flexibility for Member States like Ireland to decide upon reduction targets nationally, which consider our challenging climatic conditions. This decision by Ministers in the EU Council is a welcome development from this perspective,” Kieran McEvoy concluded.