Statement from the Voluntary Initiative Strategy Group

The farming industry is committed to ensuring that plant protection products (PPPs) are used responsibly, whilst minimising their impacts on water, the wider environment and human health.

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Over the past 20 years UK farmers, growers and contractors have focussed on professional use of PPPs and increased uptake of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This has been achieved through high UK statutory requirements and voluntary measures such as: National Register of Spray Operators (NRoSO) to ensure sprayer operators are certificated, trained and up-skilled; National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) to ensure the equipment used to apply PPPs is regularly inspected, calibrated and in good working order; and IPM plans are completed and reviewed to ensure an integrated approach.

The Voluntary Initiative (VI) developed and continues to support Biodiversity and Environmental Training for Advisers (BETA) which has evolved to meet the needs of those advising on environmental issues. Advisers who are members of the BASIS Professional Register are required to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) following training and certification, CPD extends across six categories, which importantly includes IPM.

The farming industry needs to ensure the government, retailers and consumers have confidence that PPPs are being used professionally and sustainably. The VI values the role farm assurance schemes play in reinforcing VI supported measures, the inclusion of such measures is effective in ensuring PPPs are used responsibly.

With the recent consultation on a new National Action Plan (for the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products) that highlights the role of IPM, the VI backs a dynamic and proactive approach from the agricultural industry. The VI measures and adviser training are recognised as being world leading in raising standards. The VI will continue to play a key role in promoting schemes that promote best integrated pest management practice from farmers and growers.