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Post-Brexit Regulatory Delays Plague UK Agriculture, Agricultural Industry Warns

British agriculture is grappling with significant challenges as post-Brexit regulatory delays continue to wreak havoc on the sector. The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) has raised concerns about the increased costs and uncertainty facing plant protection businesses and growers.

Since the UK’s departure from the European Union on 1 January 2021, the country has operated an independent pesticide regulatory regime. Nevertheless, under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland Protocol, EU pesticide legislation still applies in Northern Ireland. This duality has contributed to the complex landscape British agriculture now faces.

The AIC highlighted to the BBC that manufacturers of plant protection products are now burdened with similar fees to access both the UK and EU markets. Hazel Doonan, head of crop protection at AIC, explained that this situation is exacerbated by the delayed publication of the National Action Plan for sustainable crop protection and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Initially expected in 2022, the plan's publication has been repeatedly postponed, with the upcoming general election on 4 July cited as the latest reason for delay. Doonan voiced concerns that further delays are likely, especially if a new government opts to review the plan later in the year.

The delays in developing the GB pesticide regime, combined with the increase in fees for active substance approval, are straining manufacturers. According to Doonan, “This could mean some products become uneconomic to support in GB as the market is too small. The horticulture sector is particularly vulnerable to this.”

A notable issue is the diverging renewal dates for active substances in pesticides between the EU and UK. Originally extended by up to three years post-Brexit, these dates were further extended by up to five years in April 2023 to provide regulators with the time needed to develop a comprehensive renewal programme. This divergence is set to increase costs for manufacturers, potentially leading to uncertainty about whether they will continue to support their products in the UK market.

As the sector awaits the long-overdue regulatory framework, the ongoing delays are adding to the financial and operational strain on British agriculture, leaving many in the industry anxious about the future.


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