Defra to slash farming red tape

Work will begin to cut red tape in farming, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice announced today. The promise came as the independent Farming Regulation Task Force presented more than 200  recommendations for reducing the administrative burden faced by farmers and food producers.

The task force was set up by Defra in July 2010 to carry out an extensive review of regulations affecting farmers and food producers and identify ways to reduce the regulatory burden. It hopes to move away from regulations that focus on complex processes and enforcement to a simpler approach determined by the end result. 

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: “This is an impressive piece of work with strong recommendations for reducing the burden that red tape has on the people who produce our food.”

“We expect our farmers and food producers to maintain the highest standards, but the way to get them to achieve those standards isn’t to wrap them up in red tape – we need to free them from unnecessary burdens. We must trust in the industry’s ability to produce our food, manage our countryside and contribute to our economic recovery.”

Areas where early action will be explored include reducing paperwork required under nitrate regulations, simplifying and removing duplication of animal welfare inspections, changing aspects of the six-day standstill arrangements and abolishing the cattle tracing system (CTS) links and sole occupancy agreements (SOAs).

The Minister said: “In the longer-term my priority will be to cut the unnecessary paperwork that farmers and food producers have to deal with and, wherever possible, move remaining paperwork online.”

He also announced the creation of a new Strategic Regulatory Scrutiny Panel, tasked with challenging and advising the government on the way it thinks about regulation.

The government will look at the recommendations and publish an initial response this autumn. The final response is expected in early 2012.