Farmers left frustrated by EU vote on products

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said a vote in the European Parliament to ban the use of plant protection products (PPPs) on ecological focus areas (EFAs) is a blow to farmers.

Deputy president Ivor Ferguson said farmers are frustrated.

He added: “Especially, since the decision by the EU parliament rejects the views of its own agri-committee on the use of PPPs on EFAs. The aim of simplifying the CAP greening rules is to make things easier. Sadly, this decision flies in the face of simplification and will only make things more difficult.”

The plan to ban PPPs on EFA crops had been strongly opposed by the UFU, fellow UK farming unions and several other member states. The ban is set to come into effect for the 2018 claim year. At the vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, a majority of the MEPs voted to follow the lead of their committee. Unfortunately with 78 MEPs not present, the 376 who voted in favour fell short of the required absolute majority.

“While there are elements in the CAP simplification proposals for greening that could benefit farmers, we are very disappointed with this decision. Despite securing a majority in the voting chamber, due to the number of MEPs absent it was not an overall majority. This means that the CAP simplification package in place for 2018 will likely have a ban on the use of PPPs on some EFAs.” Mr Ferguson said there are still many questions and clarification is needed as to what this decision means in practice.