Pesticide registration is further red tape for farmers

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New pesticide certification is further red tape for farmers to deal with, according to Galway East TD Paul Connaughton who said that requiring farmers to undertake a four-day training course to show them how to use a knapsack sprayer is simply another example of how out of touch administrators are with everyday farming life in County Galway.

‘Farmers all over county Galway are already swamped with bureaucracy without having to take the best part of a week out of their busy schedules to complete pesticide training.

‘Requiring all professional users of pesticides, including small farmers who may spray weeds in their farmyard once a year with a knapsack sprayer, to complete a Level 5 FETAC course in pesticide use is another example of bureaucracy gone mad.

‘We all fully understand why a large tillage farmer who regularly uses a tractor mounted sprayer to spray crops may need three and a half days of training, but to require a farmer who puts on a knapsack once or twice a year for an hour to do the same training is ludicrous.

‘Not alone is the duration of the course far too long, the cost of the course, at €200 or over, is also very considerable. Distributors of pesticides also have to do tailor-made training in storage and distribution, meaning your local village shop which sells pesticides, now has to do the same training as the large multinational in a regional town.

‘It’s time that someone shouted stop. At this rate farmers will need separate certification for the hundreds of tasks they carry out in a year. We are well aware of the need to protect the environment, what is needed is fairness and a system that reflects the user’s situation.’

Deputy Connaughton also spoke of an anomaly in relation to the lower age for training and registration. ‘I was recently contacted by one farmer in county Galway who paid for his 16-year-old son to do the course. The young man completed the course and went to register, but he found that you have to be over 18 to be able to register with the Department of Agriculture. In such cases, a full refund should be given and people under 18 should be informed of the registration difficulties before they start a course.

‘You can get full time work aged 16, can pay PRSI contributions and be taxed, become an apprentice, drive a tractor, jet ski or motorcycle, can travel unaccompanied, can apply for a firearms certificate, but if they do a three or four day course on pesticides, they cannot register with the Department of Agriculture as having completed the necessary training. This is an anomaly that will have to be addressed.

‘Young people should be encouraged to educate themselves on pesticides and their proper use, storage and distribution and I believe that anyone aged 16 to 18 who has completed the necessary training should be allowed to register.

‘I have contacted Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney about this matter. I would also encourage families in similar situations who have completed and paid for the training to seek a refund if they were not informed of the age requirements for registration.’