Farmers with the best track records on environmental protection and animal welfare standards could soon earn the right to operate more freely, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said today.
Unveiling the Government’s interim response to the Farming Regulation Task Force, Mr Paice highlighted a number of areas where the government hopes to reduce regulatory burdens on farmers, whilst still achieving high standards on the environment, health and animal welfare.
The interim response gives a brief overview of the progress made so far to address the challenges set out by the Task Force report.
The new approaches being explored include:
- Changing the way we work with the farming industry to build a closer working partnership that helps the industry and cuts red tape;
- Making inspections more risk-based and targeted at farms which are at greater risk of breaching regulations;
- Co-ordinating inspections to reduce the number of duplicate visits by different enforcement bodies and therefore minimizing disruption to farmers businesses; and
- Simplifying the complex environmental requirements to give much clearer guidance to farmers about what practical measures they need to take.
Jim Paice said:
“Where we can, we’re looking to free up those playing by the rules so they can get on with doing what they do best - running their farms.
“The MacDonald report was big, bold and ambitious, and if industry is ready to play its part, we can make it a reality.”
Other red-tape busting measures proposed include:
- Bringing together local councils and affected parties to combat fly-tipping on private land;
- Reducing paperwork for farmers and putting more records and guidance online;
- Better information sharing between agencies so more forms will be pre-populated and easier to fill in; and
- An implementation group, chaired by Richard MacDonald to oversee progress and delivery.
Jim Paice continued:
“If we want a successful and competitive farming industry then the rules and regulations need to be drawn up with farmers in mind. Most farmers want to do the right thing and push standards even higher - what we need to do is help them do that in as simple and effective way as possible.
“It also means getting farmers and NGOs to agree on what the best way forward is, and I want to thank the NFU and RSPB for working so constructively with us to inform our interim response.”
Richard MacDonald who led the Task Force said:
“I am greatly reassured by the progress that has been made in response to the Task Force. Many of our recommendations were bold and challenging and for some there are no quick fixes. Our recommendations require change in both government and the farming industry and I am encouraged that both are actively engaging to develop solutions now for the future. I am looking forward to helping drive implementation and making all this real.”
The Government’s full and final response to the Task Force report will be published in early 2012.
The Government’s interim response is available on the Defra website at: www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/farm-manage/farm-regulation/