Rapeseed farms praised for not using bee harming pesticides on crops

Sam Fairs, and wife Claire, at Hillfarm Oils, Suffolk.

Sam Fairs, and wife Claire, at Hillfarm Oils, Suffolk. - Credit: Archant

Two East Anglian farmers’ commitment to helping Britain’s threatened bees has been welcomed by an international environment organisation.

The farms are being backed by Friends of the Earth, and leading UK chefs, who are urging nature-loving shoppers to show their support by using their products.

Sam Fairs and his father Alan, in Heveningham, near Halesworth, produce award-winning Hillfarm Rapeseed Oil.

Tim Mack and his son William grow award-winning oilseed rape, Yare Valley Oils, on their family farm at Surlingham, a few miles south east of Norwich.

The two farms are among a pioneering group of British farmers who are responding to growing scientific evidence and consumer concern. They have pledged not to use three controversial bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides on their oilseed rape crops – even if current EU restrictions are lifted.

Sam Fairs, of Hillfarm in Heveningham, which produces more 500,000 litres of rapeseed oil a year said: “We need bees and other insects to pollinate our crops. They perform a very important function close to the start of the human food chain.

“We feel that the right thing to do is to not use neonicotinoids seed treatments on our oilseed rape until there is clear evidence to prove that it is a safe treatment to use or not.”

Most Read

Tim Mack, of Yare Valley in Norfolk, which produces 40,000 litres of cold pressed rapeseed oil a year said: “With reports that using these chemicals on rapeseed is a potential threat to bees, it is not something we are willing to risk. Bees are a fundamental part of our ecology. It is in no one’s interest, let alone the farmer’s, to harm the bee.”

Both farms, which grow, press and bottle their own crops to make high quality cold-pressed rapeseed oil, are two of seven farms highlighted by Friends of the Earth in its new Bee-friendly Shopper’s Guide to Rapeseed oil.

Friends of the Earth bee campaigner, Nick Rau, said: “We’re delighted Hillfarm and Yare Valley are standing up for Britain’s bees. We hope more farmers and producers follow their lead and say no to these neonicotinoid pesticides.

“Nature-loving shoppers can back this pioneering initiative by checking out the Bee-friendly Shoppers Guide to Rapeseed oil and choosing these products in supermarkets.”