Commodity Watch - Update on Arable and Horticulture

Saturday, 25 January, 2014

Commodity Watch - Update on Arable and Horticulture

This week UFU Senior Policy Officer Patricia Erwin provides members with an update of all that is happening in the Arable and Horticulture sectors.

Farmhouse Breakfast

Members of the UFU Seeds & Cereals Committee have joined industry representatives and special guests at Northern Ireland's Farmhouse Breakfast event held at CAFRE Greenmount this week. This event has been held in advance of HGCA's Farmhouse Breakfast Week (26 Jan to 1st Feb 2014) which provided a great forum for all to get involved and help spread the healthy breakfast message. HGCA is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) with reprensentatives attending who also gave use the much valued financial support needed to showcase this event. You can get involved in HGCA's Farmhouse Breakfast Week by visiting 

 2014 Arable Conference

Following breakfast, the UFU in partnership with DARD CAFRE and UAS proactively delivered another excellent Agronomy and Business Management Conference for Arable Growers and industry representatives. The conference’s organising committee over the months have worked hard on delivering a programme of excellence giving those attending a great opportunity to listen, learn and engage in open dialogue with leading high profile experts from within the province beyond. 

Cereals Competition Awards

The UFU Seeds & Cereals Committee delivered another prestigious event for the sector earlier this month as the UFU rewarded the professionalism, knowledge and determination of the top class growers here in Northern Ireland at the 2013 Cereal Competition awards ceremony.  The UFU are indebted to the competition sponsors, judges, Group Managers and Members for their continued efforts and support each year.  The Cereals Competition clearly illustrates how the arable industry has the ability to plan for the future and react to all external challenges and yet continue to deliver excellence.  

Update on Spray Law Changes  

The UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (Plant Protection Products) was published by Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs in February 2013.   As this is a UK Plan it covers England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and is applicable to all who use Plant Protection Products and application equipment. 

Equipment Inspection:

All plant protection product application equipment will require an inspection certificate under UK National Action Plan. 

Once before 26 November 2016;
At intervals of no more than 5 years until 2020 and at intervals of no more than 3 years thereafter;
All new equipment must be inspected within 5 years of purchase;

From 26 November 2016 operators must only use equipment that holds an inspection certificate.  Whilst most arable and horticulture equipment may already be inspected annually this new legislation extends to infrequent users including all grassland farmers.

Certificate of Use:  The Regulation requires all users of plant protection products authorised for professional use to hold a certificate evidencing training.  ‘Grandfather Rights’ in relation to spraying will end in 2015 under the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012.  ‘Grandfather rights’ owners are those users who were historically permitted to rely on an age-based exemption.

Purchase:  The Regulation stipulates that any person who purchases a plant protection product must ensure that the end user will hold a certificate or work under the supervision of someone holding such a certificate. 

It is therefore very important going forward for those farms where spraying activity is carried out that the equipment holds a certificate and that there is someone on the holding who is correctly trained and holds the appropriate certificate of competence to use it, or alternatively consider using a contractor.

The UFU is working with CAFRE to ensure that an appropriate mechanism is in place to enable affected users to upgrade and move from ‘grandfather rights’ to the recognised City and Guild certificate/qualification, whilst keeping cost to a minimum.  

 Horticulture update

The Chairs and Vice Chairs of both the UFU apple and vegetable Committee have attended a recent NI Horticulture Forum Meeting to share UFU Horticulture Committee Member views on the DARD consultation on Policy Options Arising from CAP Reform (Pillar 1 Direct Payments).  In addition, a special Operator Road Show for Vegetable producers will be held on Tuesday 4th February 2014. For more details about the road show contact Angela Scott at UFU on 028 90 370222

It is also important to note that with evolving new pesticide legislation and the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) many farmers born before 1964 will be required to get the relevant PA Certificates or consider using a contractor going forward. 

 Going Forward:

Going forward, the committee will continue to review all developments around CAP Reform Implementation. Other work pending includes evaluating the Farm Quality Assured Cereal Scheme, Benchmarking, Sustainable Use (Grandfather Upgrade) delivery and we are awaiting the issue of a consultation on the review of the Nitrates Action Programme 2011 – 2014.