The annual report of the Voluntary Initiative steering group published
today highlights the successes from its first five years.
Since its launch the VI has seen £45.75m invested by farmers
and the crop protection industry in over 40 projects to improve
pesticide use and protect the environment.
Latest data collated by the NFU has shown a dramatic upturn in
the area covered by Crop Protection Management Plans, as the Entry
Level Scheme has been taken up. At least 2.4m ha - double the 2006
VI target - will now be covered by CPMPs.
The report highlights other successes including:
- Most of the final five year targets under the VI have
been met or exceeded.
- By March 31 2006, more than 76 per cent
of the sprayed area in the UK was treated with machines tested
under the National Sprayer
- Membership of the National
Register of Sprayer Operators is covers more than 80 per cent
of the UK arable area.
- Environment Agency data shows a continuing
reduction of pesticide levels in surface water with a 19 per
cent fall in 2004.
VI chairman Professor Barry Dent OBE said: “After five years
it is now good to see the VI moving beyond being a tax prevention
package to be a guide on good practice that helps protect the environment
and farmers’ incomes.
“We’re delighted to have met most of the targets agreed
at the beginning of this five year process and to have met or exceeded
all of the operational targets by March this year.
“Government has now agreed the VI should continue on a two-year
rolling basis allowing us to build on the major schemes we’ve
already set up. The VI will evolve into a dynamic and progressive
programme of measures which works to help farmers and government
deliver a sustainable countryside.”
1. The Voluntary Initiative is a programme of measures, agreed
by Government, to minimise the environmental impacts of pesticides.
2. Surface Water quality: The Environment Agency compared the
2003 data with the previous five years and showed an 18 per cent
reduction in pesticide exceedences. The same exercise for 2004
showed a 19 per cent reduction.
3. The sponsors of the VI are the National Farmers Union, NFU
Scotland, the Country Land and Business Association, the Ulster
Farmers Union, the Crop Protection Association, the National Association
of Agricultural Contractors, the Agricultural Engineers Association
and the Agricultural Industries Confederation.
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