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voluntary initiative

The Voluntary Initiative

Email: http://www.voluntaryinitiative.org.uk/content/Enquiry.aspx
Internet: http://www.voluntaryinitiative.org.uk/

The Crop Protection Association co-ordinated the campaign against the pesticide tax. The main arguments were that such a tax would not achieve the environmental aims of Government whilst at the same time causing damage to the competitiveness of UK agriculture.

In collaboration with other farming organisations, a package of voluntary measures, known as the Voluntary Initiative (VI), was developed. This was accepted by the Government in April 2001. Since that time the Crop Protection Association has been working with seven stakeholder organisations to implement these proposals.

The initiative will last for five years and the annual cost to the crop protection industry will be approximately 2.1 million. In addition, it has been estimated that it will cost farmers in the UK 11 million per year to implement the package of measures on individual farms.

The VI consists of 24 individual projects covering a broad range of topics geared towards protecting the environment particularly water quality and biodiversity. There are also several projects concerned with training and the promotion of integrated farming systems. Examples of some projects are given below:

    • Crop Protection Management Plans

As part of the VI all farmers will be encouraged to produce Crop Protection Management Plans (CPMPs) every year. A logical structured approach to planning crop protection measures will ensure that potential environmental impacts of current crop protection practices are minimised. Details of what a CPMP is and how it should be constructed will be available soon.

    • Water Catchment Management

A key concern of Government is to ensure that surface water is protected from potential contamination and that the costs for purifying water are minimised. The VI seeks to examine a range of preventive measures that can be used in a range of representative water catchments around the UK. These catchments include the River Blythe, south Staffordshire, Whittle Dene, Northumberland, Upper Cherwell, Oxfordshire/Northamptonshire and several others. In addition, work will be undertaken to develop robust indicators at catchment level that can be used for monitoring water quality.

    • Pesticide Environmental Information Sheets

A key element of the VI is the provision of environmental information about crop protection products. The VI is committed to produce Environmental Information Sheets (EISs) for 1000 key products by April 2006.

The purpose of EISs is to provide clear information on the potential environmental impact of products. They have been designed for use by agronomists and advisers (including those in the amenity sector) as well as farmers and growers.

An independent Steering Group, under the Chairmanship of Professor Barry Dent, directs the implementation process and reports progress to the Minister of the Environment, Michael Meacher MP. The Chancellor of the Exchequer reports progress to Parliament in the Budget and pre-budget statements. Should progress towards the governments aims be seen as unsatisfactory and / or the required improvements towards environmental protection not be achieved then government has reserved the right to impose the tax.

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