Is the French wine industry being banned access to the copper smoothing it had secured?

Monday May 06 2019 by Vitisphere

'SPe 1: To protect soil organisms, do not apply this product or any other product containing copper at a total annual rate greater than 4 kg Cu/ha.”'SPe 1: To protect soil organisms, do not apply this product or any other product containing copper at a total annual rate greater than 4 kg Cu/ha.” - Photo credit : INRA

Registered by the National Health Safety Agency (ANSES) for four Marketing Authorisations (Caffaro Bordeaux mixture, Cuproxat SC/Frégate SC, Kobber and Novicure), the little sentence SPe1 has sent a chill through organic winegrowers whilst at the same time cheering their conventional friends. "SPe 1: To protect soil organisms, do not apply this product or any other product containing copper at a total annual rate greater than 4 kg Cu/ha.

While in November 2018 the European Commission had lowered the authorised copper dose at EU level to 4 kg/ha/year, it had opened up the possibility for Member States to spread it over seven years (i.e maximum usage of 28 kg/ha over 7 years). But the sentence SPe1 ends the possibility of spreading the amount over time in France, ushering in a technical deadlock.

Although the ANSES delivers its MAs independently, the French government defended the continued possibility of spreading the amount over time in Brussels, points out the National Federation of Organic Farming (FNAB). To put an end to this political paradox, the FNAB sent a letter on 9 April calling on the Minister of Agriculture, Didier Guillaume, to implement copper smoothing.

But this maximum amount does not only involve the organic wine sector. The rest of the wine industry has jumped on the subject to move it forward. Bernard Farges, chairman of the National Federation of Wine and Brandy AOCs (CNAOC), is calling on the public authorities. "We are asking for rapid implementation, without any additional constraints compared to the European framework that allows it”, explained the Bordeaux winegrower, adding that the wine industry could not be asked to change its winemaking practices while alternative routes were being closed off.

 

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