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EU targets tillage farmer subsidies in pesticide clampdown

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The EU is under pressure to make reducing risks to the environment from pesticide use a condition for receiving CAP payments.

A new report from the European Court of Auditors said progress towards measuring and reducing risks from pesticide use in the EU has been limited.

The Auditors also said incentives for farmers to adopt alternative methods remain weak.

However, responding to the report, an IFA spokesperson said Irish growers require a level playing field whereby they are not compelled to compete with imported grains and other crops produced under environmental and regulatory controls which fall below EU standards.

Since 2016 the Commission has taken increased action to enforce implementation of the directive on sustainable use of pesticides, acknowledge the auditors.

Along with the directive, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has been made mandatory for farmers.

IPM means only using pesticides if prevention and other methods fail or are not effective.

However, the auditors said there are no clear criteria or specific requirements to help ensure enforcement and assess compliance.

In parallel, a category of "low-risk plant protection products" has been created. However, only 16 out of 487 substances, or 3pc, have been made available for use to date, which is insufficient, say the auditors.

They also note that there are few incentives for farmers to reduce their dependency to pesticides - in particular, applying IPM principles is not included as a condition for receiving CAP payments.

"The European Commission has been unable so far to substantially reduce and control risks associated to pesticides use by farmers," said Samo Jereb, the member of the Auditors responsible for the report.

"An opportunity to properly address this issue was offered by a new CAP coming into force in 2021, but was unfortunately missed."

Indo Farming