Substantial increases in household food prices could result if the European Parliament succeeds in pushing through its version of proposals to cut the availability of pesticides for use in agriculture. This is the key finding of a new report on the impact of the EU’s proposed pesticides legislation carried out by economist Sean Rickard of the Cranfield School of Management.

Under the European Parliament’s most restrictive scenario, which would remove 85 per cent of current pestcides from the market, EU cereals output could drop by about 100m tonnes, leading to an effective doubling in grain prices. A £100/t increase in wheat prices, according to Mr Rickard’s calculations, would translate into an extra 9p on a loaf of bread, 3p on a litre of milk and a 40p increase in the price of pork. Potato prices would also double. Mr Rickard suggested that it could easily put another 10 per cent on the rate of food inflation.

The report notes that for arable farmers these price rises would not be enough to make good the drop in yields. For livestock farmers, the rise in feed prices would cut incomes, forcing many out of business. The UK would also face a deterioration in the food trade deficit of £14bn, as more imports are drawn in and self suffiency falls.

In many instances the proposals would force farmers to replace crop protection products with increased cultivations. The farming industry would become more dependent on fuel and, with it, ots carbon footprint.

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