An insight into agricultural science, regulation and our work on behalf of our members.

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An eclectic mix of plant health, farm safety, transport, skills, employment and science news and all the latest from the NFU's Science & Regulatory Affairs team.

December 2018

Welcome to Technically Speaking - the newsletter from the NFU's Science & Regulatory Affairs team! You can either click on one of our top stories above or scroll down for more news below. But, before you go, why not catch up on what some of our team have been up to over the last month or so:

Chief Science & Regulatory Affairs Adviser, Dr Helen Ferrier, has been continuing work to underpin decisions on farming with a robust evidence base: “I have been working closely with the Director of KE at AHDB to drive forward our proposal for a ‘What Works for Farming’ initiative. Modelled on a government concept, this will bring together industry, science community and government to give those working in both policy and practice a robust evidence base for their decision-making. This month we have met the National What Works Adviser and Head of the Behavioural Insights Team, David Halpern, with the Head of the What Works Network in the Cabinet Office.”

Meanwhile, Senior Plant Health Adviser, Emma Hamer, has been looking at opportunities to develop Integrated Pest Management: "This month I have been focussing on Integrated Pest Management or IPM. I have been speaking with technical experts from Tesco, other European Farming Unions, the National Crops Board and the VI Steering Group Meeting of wider stakeholders on how NFU members are implementing IPM on farm and some of the exciting new technologies which are coming over the horizon. But also where there are knowledge gaps and where we need more research and development to answer our crop protection problems, especially in light of the rapid removal of active ingredients from the crop protection toolbox."

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The Government has launched an important consultation on which roles could and should be on the UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and we are urging you to respond - read more here and click through to submit a response.


Following the ministerial approval in late October of an emergency authorisation for asulam in 2019, you can now put all the key dates in your diary for the coming year.

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In the fourth Bitesized Brexit podcast, acting director for the British Agricultural Bureau in Brussels, Tom Keen, provides analysis of last weekend’s European Commission vote and an insight into the NFU's activity in Brussels.

Cross sector workshop Future-proofing your business NFU18_51915

Take a digital flick through a new, easy-to-use guide from the HSE and compare your farm to what a good farm should look like in terms of health and safety.

Plant health news from Brussels

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Early in November, the European Commission launched a new action plan to tackle the potential health and environmental dangers of Endocrine Disruptors. New EU rules that prohibit the use of such substances in plant protection products are likely to have an impact on the availability of pesticides.

More recently, the Commission decided to lower the duty on imports of ammonium nitrate from Russia, following calls from the UK farming unions to abolish the duties altogether. In other fertiliser news, the European Council and European Parliament have now reached a deal on new fertiliser regulation, after more than a year of discussions.

Last week, EU member states voted in favour of a proposal to reauthorise copper compounds as a fungicide, but application limits have been reduced.


Find out how the Budget 2018 will impact on employees pay and personal allowance tax, and what this means for you, the employer.

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The Rodenticide Resistance Action Committee (RRAC) is working with the University of Reading to map resistance to anticoagulant rodenticides across the UK and your help is needed to fill gaps in the data and ensure the map is up-to-date.

Metaldehyde in the Thames Catchment

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If we cannot keep metaldehyde out of drinking water sources, its use could be severely restricted or even banned. To illustrate the problem, the water companies in the Thames basin have been updating us on metaldehyde concentrations through November: 30 November | 23 November 16 November | 9 November | 2 November

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Researcher and trainee clinical psychologist, Laura Phalp, is investigating the relationship between adverse events on farms and thoughts of suicide and you can help by completing a 20-minute questionnaire.


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Biotechnology in the UK: The NFU sees biotechnology as a critical part of the solution in helping British farmers and growers meet some of the production challenges they face and you can catch up on the latest developments here.

Biotechnology in world news: Get the latest reaction from around the world to a recent ECJ ruling on gene editing, click through to media coverage of a new WTO statement on plant breeding innovation and read about how the prospect of ingredients derived from advanced plant breeding techniques is not far off in the US.

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The NFU has pulled together a list of agriculture-related courses on offer across England and Wales between October and December 2018, including an online course for rodent control, a one-day course on chainsaw maintenance and a four-day course on DIY AI. Find the right course for you: Online Courses | North West | North East | West Midlands | East Midlands | South West | South East | East Anglia | Wales

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National news from NFU HQ is an email service offered to all NFU members and staff only. For more information on anything you have read, please visit or call NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458. Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and omissions.

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