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New Partnership Between Government and Farmers

by 5m Editor
28 November 2005, at 12:00am

UK - Sustainable Farming and Food Minister Lord Bach today launched Partners for Success, Defra's new Farm Regulation and Charging Strategy. The strategy commits the Government to improving the way it regulates and enforces regulation, in order to make it easier for farmers to comply. This will help improve their performance in protecting the environment, biodiversity, animal health and welfare, as well as food safety and worker safety.

New Partnership Between Government and Farmers - UK - Sustainable Farming and Food Minister Lord Bach today launched Partners for Success, Defra's new Farm Regulation and Charging Strategy. The strategy commits the Government to improving the way it regulates and enforces regulation, in order to make it easier for farmers to comply. This will help improve their performance in protecting the environment, biodiversity, animal health and welfare, as well as food safety and worker safety.

Partners for Success sets out ideas for simplifying rules and cutting red tape for farmers, notably through reduced form-filling. Examples include bringing separate environmental permitting systems together, and options to reduce farmers' workload on cattle movements. This is part of Defra's commitment to reduce administrative burdens on business by 25% by 2009. Wherever possible, Defra will consider using alternatives to regulation to achieve its objectives. Some new controls are inevitable, but they must be innovative, focus on results, and keep bureaucracy to a minimum.

Farmers stand to gain from the strategy, as it paves the way for better communication of the purpose of regulations, as well as rules that are easier to understand and apply in a day-to-day business context, and are therefore more effective. Farmers will also be able to see more clearly how regulatory charges are designed and to challenge their efficiency.

Farmers will need to play their part in the new partnership, especially by managing the risks and costs of their operations to the public, and reducing the unwelcome impacts of their activities.

Launching Partners for Success, Lord Bach said: "Government is committed to improving the way we develop new policies, the way we inspect and enforce regulations, and the way we give advice and information to farmers.

"Our work on advice and information starts with the new issue of Farming Link, which will provide farmers and growers with dependable information and news about the rules and changes affecting their business."

"In response to farmers' concerns, I am announcing a review of the complex local delivery arrangements for inspecting and enforcing animal health and welfare regulations. This will help reduce overlap and bureaucracy, and simplify farmers' interactions with Government."

"We will build on our recent work with assurance schemes to explore how we can reduce administrative burdens on farmers by reducing duplication and overlap in inspections and, through data sharing for those farmers who agree to it."

"And of course, the Whole Farm Approach will be a key tool to achieve further cuts in the time spent by an average farmer filling in forms, reading guidance and applying for schemes. This could translate in savings for farmers of up to £28 million annually."

The NFU supports the thrust of the strategy. The NFU's President Tim Bennett said: "I am convinced that the launch of Defra's strategy is an important stage in the implementation of a more effective and closer partnership between the farming industry and Government, focused on achieving outcomes important to us all."

"It's good news that we are moving away from old-fashioned regulation and considering other methods, such as voluntary schemes, training and education, and promoting best practice."

"It is also good that there will be a partnership between the industry and Defra in setting standards and agreeing on the best way to achieve them. This should give the farming community more ownership of the outcome, and we welcome that. The challenge will be to convert the strategy into practice, to make it happen."

The strategy is the first to apply the better regulation agenda in a specific sector of the economy. It heralds a new partnership between the Government and the farming industry, with a long-term vision for the future of regulation and charging.

Source: Defra - 28th November 2005

5m Editor