Withdrawal of EU pesticide policy will come as a relief to Irish farmers – MEP Maria Walsh

Maria Walsh MEP has, this morning, welcomed the direction of Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen to withdraw the contentious Sustainable Use Regulation (SUR). 

The SUR, which aims to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by at least 50% across the European Union by 2030, has been divisive since its inception in Summer 2022. The European Parliament rejected the Commission’s policy outline in November 2023, meaning there is no official Parliament position on the proposed policy. 

MEP Maria Walsh said: 

“I welcome President Von der Leyen’s direction to withdraw the SUR and agree with her comments that the ‘proposal has become a symbol of polarisation’.

“Farmers are telling us loud and clear that they are struggling, it is our duty as public representatives and policy makers to listen and take action.

“The lack of appropriate and available alternatives to the usage of chemical pesticides is a huge problem for farmers, working to a tight deadline of halving use by 2030. 

“As a policy maker, and as a young trained farmer myself, I know that the Common Agricultural Policy is not fit for purpose. Initially designed to produce food at a reasonable cost for millions of consumers, the long term strategy must include additional funding for any and all additional asks of our farmers and rural communities. 

“People need to understand that farmers have been custodians to European and Irish lands for generations; they protect and nurture the environment. The us versus them narrative that has emerged must end.”

According to President Von der Leyen, a report on an ongoing strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture will be presented by late Summer. 

Commenting on this, MEP Walsh called for education to be considered in this report:

“The report must address the need for information on succession planning for young farmers, in particular female farmers who do not have the same access to land or livestock as previous generations”.