Government vows to slash red tape for farmers
Published:  22 February, 2012

The government has promised to slash red tape for farmers to help improve business efficiency and provide a boost to the economy.

Launching the government’s full response to the Farming Regulation Task Force Report, which was published last May, Farming Minister Jim Paice yesterday (21 Feb) committed to taking action on 86% of the independent panel’s original recommendations.

These include the introduction of a pilot scheme to increase data-sharing between government agencies; closer industry involvement in the policy-making process to ensure non-regulatory approaches are adopted where possible; simplifying environmental protection rules, offering a potential way forward for removing the six-day livestock standstill rule and fewer inspections for farmers who meet high environmental and animal welfare standards.

The government also promised more efficient UK lobbying on key EU farming laws and workshops with farmers to see how paperwork can be further reduced.

Paice said: “This government wants to help to create the right conditions for businesses to thrive, and remove unnecessary burdens which hold back UK economic growth. This is a new approach to working with the farming industry, and shows Defra is committed to freeing up businesses to help drive economic recovery.

“With rising global demand for food, farmers and their skills are in huge demand, which brings business opportunities. The response to the Farming Regulation Task Force commits to clear actions that will make it easier for farmers to get on with their jobs and make the most of those opportunities.”

He added that the government was “fundamentally changing” the way it works with industry. “This is a balance of trusting farmers’ expertise and ability to do the right thing, and farmers demonstrating that they can fulfil their responsibilities on protecting the environment, and upholding animal welfare and food safety standards,” he said.

The minister paid tribute to chair of the Farming Regulation Task Force, Richard Macdonald, and announced that Macdonald will be leading a Task Force implementation group, made up of Defra officials, farmers and farming and environmental organisations.

Macdonald said: “The Task Force made over 200 recommendations and the fact that almost 90% have been accepted marks real progress. I am very pleased. While some of the specific recommendations haven’t been accepted, which will disappoint some, overall it vindicates everything we’ve been doing to drive forward change.

“Now we need to turn words into actions. I am pleased to be chairing the implementation group to see it through, so that government and industry meet their commitments and step up to the responsibilities.”

>Coalition farm review 'pro-business': MacDonald

>Government announces proposals to reduce red tape for farmers