As any farmer is acutely aware, pest-control is fundamental to the successful operation of a farm. From insects to foxes, failure to manage pests can have detrimental effects on crops, livestock and equipment. However, it looks as though the management of one particular type of pest is set to change this summer: vermin.
The use of First and Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (FGARs and SGARs), or rat poison, is commonplace – particularly during the autumn harvest season. Yet, from 1st June 2016, restrictions announced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are due to limit the purchase of such rodenticides for professional use. What this means is that in order to buy rodenticide bait for ‘professional use’, the purchaser may require a ‘Certificate of Competence’ which is achievable following the completion of a recognised training course. The need for this forthcoming regulation is predicated upon continued pressure from environmentalists, such as the RSPB, who are concerned that the irresponsible use of rodenticides potentially risks the exposure of ‘non-target species’ to the poison as it passes up the food chain. It is thought that kestrels, red-kites and barn owls, amongst others, are falling victim to chemicals from their prey and that the introduction of stewardship regimes controlling the responsible use of poisons will enhance the preservation of the ‘non-target species’.
Nevertheless, these proposals do not appear to have received the warmest welcome from some quarters. Indeed, NFU vice-president Guy Smith has raised concerns that the regulations are “impractical to fit in alongside the everyday running of the farm” and “require farmers to jump through yet more hoops”.
Although it is suggested that farmers who are already members of a farm assurance scheme may be deemed “qualified” to use rat poison, without necessarily having to undergo any further training, until at least the end of 2017, concerns remain as to the extent of the impact of these new rules on the farming community.
To all our farming clients who may be following developments on the red-tape rat race regulations keenly, is it perhaps time to revert to the good old-fashioned cheddar and mouse traps?
Michael Gray, Paralegal (01327 350266)