Proposed EU pesticide cuts could threaten potato growing in Ireland

A proposed move by the EU to halve pesticide usage by 2030 could wipe out potato growing in Ireland. Agricultural consultant and tillage specialist PJ Phelan said a compulsory pesticide reduction of 50pc would be ‘totally impractical’ in Ireland.

“A 50pc reduction in fungicide usage would finish wheat and potato production; barley and oats would struggle and our only protein crop, beans needs soil residual herbicides.” Phelan also said that prices for all crop productions would have to increase dramatically to give any level of viability.

Agronomist Richard Hackett said Ireland’s main threat is plant diseases and weeds: “Fungicides and herbicides tend to have a more benign environmental profile than insecticides. Any restriction or arbitrary reduction in the application of these would be entirely ignoring science, as the environmental lobby does when the facts don’t suit their policy.”

The EU’s plan is part of its Farm to Fork strategy and EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said last week that the EU “will replace chemical pesticides with safe alternatives” and that farmers will be fully supported with unprecedented EU funding possibilities to cover the cost of the transition.


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