Scottish farmers this week heard that some of the crop protection products which they have been using both widely and safely for decades to control important crop pests will be banned from April.
The Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) announced this week that authorisations for products containing chlorpyrifos – such as Dursban WG and Equity – will be revoked within a matter of weeks.
NFU Scotland said the move would rob Scottish producers of important products needed to control a wide range of pests in arable crops, vegetables, soft fruit and grassland.
The announcement means that, from 1 April, it will be illegal to sell, distribute or use existing stocks of these products which are used to control pests such as aphids, wheat bulb fly, leather jackets and caterpillars. The union warned that this left little time for farmers to use or return stock or for stockists to make arrangements for withdrawal.
The sole exception for use of chlorpyrifos is as a protected brassica seedling drench using automated gantry sprayers.
With few suitable alternative products on the market, NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie said that the union would be investigating all available options to ensure that essential crop protection can occur.
“Farmers and growers who have been successfully and safely using products containing chlorpyrifos for many, many years will be bewildered at the speed at which these have been removed from their armoury of plant protection products,” he said.
Bowie said that, despite the union’s efforts to secure a longer use-up period, it had been confirmed that from 1 April it would be illegal to sell, distribute or use existing stocks, while manufacturers and distributors have until the 30 September 2016 to recover, re-label or dispose of existing stocks.
“We have discussed with the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) the issue of returning unused stock to merchants, and we understand that open stock will not be able to be returned, and that unopened stock is a matter for individual customers to discuss with their merchant. That will give those with stocks on farm a headache on disposal.”
Stating that the union would be urgently investigating the options to ensure that essential crop protection could continue, Bowie said there was also the wider issue of plant protection products.
“It is imperative that legislators appreciate that the current rate of withdrawal of pesticides from the market is likely to leave farming at significant risk of being unable to meet the challenge of sustaining production in the face of pest and disease pressure.”