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  • Writer's pictureAlison Aldred

Deregulation Of Farming

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Wheat crop
Wheat field from a recent bike ride

Liz Truss recently vowed to unleash British farming through deregulation. What does this mean, and should we be concerned?

Deregulation of farming

The removal or reduction of government regulations

Pro-deregulation claims

  • Easier for corporates, traders, and customers to directly procure produce from farmers.

  • Helps farmers get more value for their produce by eliminating restrictions.

  • Improves innovation and market growth.


  • Small businesses suffer at the expense of huge mono cropping monopolies and livestock super farms.

  • Without rules or control: quality may be compromised, poor animal welfare, pesticide increase, environmental pollution, soil erosion, decline of birds, bees, butterflies and other insects, mammals and crustaceans.

A sharp decline in pollinators

Deregulation in practice. Is it successful?

A number of countries have already implemented deregulation farming practices, which gives us the opportunity so see how successful it has been for them. I looked at a few…


China has embraced three decades of farming deregulation and they can also boast that they use the most pesticides: 13.7 kg per hectare compared to 6kg per hectare in 1990.

New Zealand

In 1984 New Zealand farming was deregulated.

From 1999 to 2003 total pesticide imports increased by 17%, as reported by Statistics New Zealand from Customs documentation.

Fast forward to 2017, and New Zealand has a pesticide use that is 3 times higher than the world average (7.89 kg per hectare compared to 2.63 kg per hectare).

This year (2022), a study was done on 501 New Zealand school children. Urine analysis showed high exposures to chlorpyrifos/triclopyr and pyrethroids (scroll down to read risk to human health).

The US

In 1996, US farmers accepted a deregulation deal, whereby they were promised increased exports, new trade deals and no restrictions on planting decisions. The long-term reality is that farming has become centralised, with many family run farms suffering and going out of business at the expense of huge multinational companies.

The first 16 years following deregulation, led to a massive increase in genetically engineered crops: 94% of all soy crops, 76% corn and 96% cotton. These varieties were claimed to be resistant to weeds and pests, but you would expect this to be reflected in reduced pesticide use. In fact, in 2011 the overall pesticide use had increased by 404 million pounds and 2020 statistics show that for soybean production, herbicides are applied to 98% of planted areas, fungicides 22% and insecticides 20%.

Risk to human and other animal health and the environment

So, by watching the experiences of other countries, we can see that with deregulation there is an increased use of pesticides and we already know, from the Pesticides Property Database (PPDB), the risks…

Human health: reproductive and development, neurotoxicant, carcinogen, endocrine disruptor.

Environment damage with leachability and drain motility.

Risk to mammals, fish, birds, honeybees, earthworms, aquatic plants, invertebrates, crustacean and I have missed out many from this list.