Client: Crop Protection Association
PR Team: In-house and Hill & Knowlton
Campaign: Pesticide tax campaign
Timescale: 1999 - ongoing
Budget: Approx. pounds 50,000 per annum
The Crop Protection Association (CPA) represents around 50 British
manufacturers and distributors of crop protection products, who overall
generate pounds 480m in the domestic market and pounds 1bn in
Labour's 1997 election manifesto pledged an environmental tax on crop
protection products. Three years ago, the CPA set up a government
In 1999, the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
(DETR) commissioned a study to examine how a tax might be implemented.
The Government asked the CPA if it could devise an alternative
To use lobbying and media activity to persuade the Government not to
introduce a tax on crop protection products.
Strategy and Plan
The CPA formed an alliance behind the scenes with farming unions, the
CBI and key figures in food processing. They formed the Pesticide Tax
Steering Group to co-ordinate political activity. Overall guidance came
from Hill & Knowlton.
In April 2000 the CPA delivered its first set of proposals, and the DETR
put these out to consultation. The Government said the proposal had not
taken into account the views of environmental groups and did not 'use
the language of now'. The CPA and H&K drew up its proposals in a
readable and glossy format and resubmitted it.
The Ministry of Agriculture was against the tax and the DETR was for it.
The CPA mounted a lobbying campaign, holding meetings with MPs in
Westminster, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
Recognising the need to enliven what could be seen as a dry tax issue,
MPs were sent a sample of hops, then a bread roll with literature
explaining how a tax would affect production of hops and wheat and the
prices of derivative products.
With the pre-Budget statement approaching in the autumn and no word from
the Government, the CPA decided to be pro-active. It met with
environmental groups - such as the Environment Agency and RSPB - that
were campaigning for the tax and analysed on what points compromises
could be brokered. It delivered a third set of proposals to the
Government in October, proposing a voluntary package of measures.
A low-budget media campaign ran alongside the lobbying. Advertorials
were placed in The House magazine and New Statesman, and press releases
were sent to the farming and lobbying press.
The media backed the issue, with The Daily Telegraph featuring a story
on the wider implications a tax would have on the food industry.
Measurement and Evaluation
The CPA has no formal way of evaluating its campaign, other than the
fact that it succeeded in staving off the tax's introduction.
The Chancellor announced in this month's Budget that a tax on crop
protection products would not be introduced.
The CPA's amended proposals included acceptance of the RSPB's request
for crop protection management plans , and a structured approach to
biodiversity, including the appointment of the first biodiversity
officer in the industry.
The CPA believes the campaign has brought the industry together and that
it has allowed the CPA to become as a major player among farming bodies.