The new requirements under the Sustainable use of Pesticide Directive (SUD) have been described as “excessive and outright ridiculous” by John Comer, President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA).

The ICMSA President has also said that the regulations will do absolutely nothing to improve the situation.

He has called for an immediate review of the Directive aimed at taking account of the practical realities of farming and removing the unnecessary levels of bureaucracy being introduced.

Comer described it as “absolute insanity” that grassland farmers, who would generally be lower level users of pesticides, will now be required to do a training course to use even a knapsack sprayer.

The President also said that the regulation is completely contrary to the simplification agenda that Commissioner Hogan has undertaken to drive within his remit in the EU.

According to Comer the net effect of this is that yet another industry is being created that will be paid for by farmers resulting in no net benefit whatsoever for the environment.

Under the SUD, any person using sprays such as fungicides, insecticides or pesticides must be a qualified and trained user and also be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine.

The new regulations will not allow any operator to apply pesticides without a minimum FETAC education requirement at a reported cost of up to €1,000, the ICMSA says.

“ICMSA believes that low level users of pesticides should be exempted from the above requirement and we note that such an exemption was initially proposed, but has since been dropped.

“We believe that this should be re-instated immediately. Additionally, we note that some sprays marked for amateur use that do not fall into the category for professional use are being sold at multiples of their recommend retail price, showing anomalies in, and abuse of, the system before it has been implemented,” the ICMSA President said.

He also said that we now have a situation where farmers and policy-makers are in agreement about the desired outcomes from the directive, but the ICMSA feel that these goals can and must be achieved in a different fashion than that currently proposed.

The ICMSA says that the Department should consider possible problems with this directive arising from tighter rules on land eligibility and land designations – such as SAC/SPAs, which are preventing farmers from re-seeding existing grassland, draining land and limits fertiliser use with the result that greater use of pesticides may be required to keep the land in good condition.

“A lot of the potential problems relating to pesticides are quite possibly being caused by the requirements around land eligibility and land designation rules and this aspect needs to be reviewed.

“ICMSA believes that the current rules will impose additional levels of bureaucracy and costs on farmers bordering on the outright ridiculous and we’ll be pushing for an exemption to be introduced for low level users of pesticides.

“I am calling on Minister Coveney to review the regulations and bring some appreciation of reality to this situation”, he said.