Press release

Farming red tape to be unravelled

Work will begin immediately to cut red tape in farming, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice announced today.

The bureaucracy-busting promise was made as the independent Farming Regulation Task Force presented its recommendations for reducing the administrative burden faced by farmers and food producers. The report makes more than 200 recommendations following an extensive review of all regulations that affect farmers and food producers and the way they are implemented.

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said:

“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.

“I asked the Farming Regulation Task Force to challenge us and they have. 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. I asked them to explore how we can move from regulations that focus on process to those that achieve the best end result and they have done this.

“This was never about a bonfire of regulations but about changing the culture of how we apply and enforce regulation. We will continue to defend our high standards for environmental management, animal welfare and food safety. I am particularly interested in the recommendations to allow industry to earn our trust and reward good practice with less frequent inspections.

“We have already identified a number of areas from the report where we can take immediate action, such as reducing the paperwork required under Nitrate Regulations and moving towards reporting all pig and cattle movement online. I’m also pleased to announce the creation of a new Strategic Regulatory Scrutiny Panel, tasked with challenging and advising us on the way we think about regulation.

“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.”

Other areas where early action will be explored include:

  • applying the principals of simplifying and removing duplication to animal welfare inspections – Defra hopes to consult soon on options in this area;
  • finding ways of improving record-keeping on farms in Nitrates Vulnerable Zones, for example by exempting organic farmers from record-keeping requirements;
  • changing aspects of the six-day standstill arrangements so that they will no longer apply to animals moving directly between farms ;
  • rationalising the allocation of County Parish Holding numbers (CPH), the system by which individual holdings are identified and allocated to farmers, so that the same rules apply to all species;
  • moving away from paper-based movement reporting for sheep, through the introduction of an industry-owned database; and
  • abolishing the Cattle Tracing System (CTS) links and Sole Occupancy Agreements (SOAs), which provide specific exemptions to movement reporting and six day standstills for farm animals, but add unnecessary complications to an already complex system.

The Government will now look closely at the Task Force’s other recommendations and publish an initial response this autumn with a full and final response early in 2012.

Notes

  1. The Farming Regulation Task Force was announced by Jim Paice at Cereals 2010 on 9 June 2010. Full Terms of Reference and details of Task Force members can be found at Farming regulation task force implementation group: ‘one year on’ assessment
  2. The Government has recently launched the Red Tape Challenge, which offers all those interested the chance to tell us about the rules and regulations they deal with on a daily basis and suggest improvements to reduce the burden that these rules place on them and their businesses. The food and drink theme is running now and environmental legislation is a cross cutting theme that will be on the website throughout the campaign at www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

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