Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

03 SEP 2012

Local MEP spends day at the farm and discusses biodiversity

Vicky Ford MEP on Friday visited Chis Hill Farm in Cambridgeshire and met with Dr Julian Little and Andrew Blant of Bayer Crop Science to discuss their work with pesticides and fungicides.

The company tests pesticides and fungicides used on arable and fruit crops, and performs regular monitoring of the amounts of residual chemical in the crop, water and soil. In addition, to help biodiversity, they have planted different seed mixes on field margins and corners which are beneficial for different birds and pollinating insects such as bees and also undertake regular biodiversity surveys.

Following the visit, Vicky Ford MEP said: "There are very strong regulations in Europe and the UK to ensure that chemicals used on crops are safe, both for food and for the environment. This year's wet weather has been particularly bad for plant disease, especially for wheat and apples, therefore farmers have needed to use a range of different products. It is important that companies such as Bayer perform regular tests and monitoring in order to make sure chemicals are kept at safe levels.

"I was particularly impressed to see some of the work that is being done to help biodiversity, for example, planting the field edges with wild flower seed mixes containing high pollen clover varieties will help bees and other insects. In other areas older fruit trees are allowed to return to nature to provide natural habitat. As a result of actions like this the farm is home to a wide variety of different insects and birds, including rare species such as a pair of barn owls.

"In Brussels this autumn we will be discussing a seven year review of the Common Agricultural Policy. Many of our East Anglian farmers have been working actively on environmental schemes, and as a result biodiversity has improved. I believe it would be a mistake for these schemes to be forced to stop, or for Europe to go backwards to a system of unmanaged set aside land. That policy did not help food production or biodiversity.

"I was also shown trials that the company is doing of a Biobed. These are quite common in Sweden and allow for pesticides contained in water from washing down agricultural sprayers to be treated and broken down naturally. I learnt how farmers otherwise have to collect this water and have it driven all the way to Ellesmere Port near Liverpool for treatment. The Biobed seemed to me to be an example of a good practice which we might consider importing."

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My Political Priorities

Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.

I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care, healthy food as well as the Innovation and Creative Industries which bring improved lifestyles for all our families.

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