Significant delays to regulatory regime for agri-chemicals are affecting growers and crop protection companies, says Agricultural Industries Confederation 

UK growers are facing added costs due to delays to post-Brexit regulations

UK growers are facing added costs due to delays to post-Brexit regulations

Significant delays to a post-Brexit regulatory regime for agri-chemicals are raising costs for plant protection businesses and making it harder for growers to plan cropping rotations.

The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) explained to the BBC that since Brexit, manufacturers of plant protection products now pay similar fees to access the UK market as they do in the EU.

Since 1 January 2021, Britain has operated a pesticide regulatory regime independent of the EU. However, under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland Protocol, EU pesticide legislation continues to apply in Northern Ireland.

The AIC said that the development of the GB pesticide regime will come alongside the National Action Plan to increase the uptake of IPM and sustainable crop protection. A consultation on the draft plan closed in February 2021 and publication was expected in 2022.

However, the government has repeatedly delayed its publication, most recently due to the upcoming general election on 4 July.

AIC’s head of crop protection, Hazel Doonan, told the BBC: “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.

“When the UK left the EU, the renewal dates for active substances in pesticides were extended by up to three years. In April 2023, these dates were extended further by up to five years to allow the regulator time to develop an active substance renewal programme.

“This means the timing of renewal of active substances has diverged between the EU and GB since Brexit. This will increase costs for manufacturers and together with the increase of fees for active substance approval, it means we don’t know if manufacturers will support their products when the active substance renewal programme is developed.”

Doonan added that it was now likely that publication of the plan would be delayed further, especially if a new government chooses to review the plan later in 2024.