East Anglia/UK: Farmers are key in helping pollinators, says NFU vice president

St Osyth Farmer Guy Smith has been elected NFU vice president

St Osyth Farmer Guy Smith has been elected NFU vice president - Credit: Archant

Farmers are part of the solution when it comes to the decline in bees and other pollinators and should not be blamed for the problem, farmers’ leaders insist.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) National Pollinator Strategy has launched a consultation looking at the problems faced by bees and other pollinators in the UK and what needs to be done to reverse declines. The consultation runs until May 2.

National Farmers’ Union vice president Guy Smith said farmers and growers are acutely aware of the importance of insect pollinators and their declines and are also concerned about the impacts on crop and wild plants. Mr Smith, who farms at St Osyth and was Pesticide Action Network’s bee friendly farmer of the year in 2012, said farmers and growers had “a huge amount to offer” in terms of helping to tackle problems faced by pollinators.

“We need to encourage their involvement and part of this will rely on today’s farmers and growers getting due recognition that they are part of the solution for pollinators, rather than hit them again with the ‘agricultural intensification’ stick and blame them as the cause of the problem,” he said. “Farming can and does continue to deliver real benefits for pollinators, through continuing development of Integrated Pest Management techniques across the industry and uptake of positive management to provide food and a home for pollinators, such as the voluntary measures promoted in the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. As part of this commitment, CFE recently launched a new pollinator management guide at the NFU conference to encourage and help farmers and growers establish more pollen and nectar rich plants and provide insects with sites for nesting and hibernation.”

“The NFU realises that pollinators are an incredibly emotive subject which is why, throughout, our main aim was to ensure that this consultation was balanced and based on sound science and evidence.”

The NFU is liaising with its membership before responding in detail to the consultation, which closes on May 2.