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Over-regulation - Is it Limiting Food Production?

7 March 2012, at 2:35pm

GLOBAL - Cutting red-tape and reducing regulatory burdens are common themes that producers are eager to see put into practice. However, in reality, the industry in the majority of cases is seeing itself tied down more and more by the law.

This week, a report has emerged, which suggests that over-regulation is a threat to US livestock production.

Laws and regulations imposed by federal, state and local governments can make domestic farmers and ranchers uncompetitive with competitors overseas and drive them out of business, says the report prepared for the United Soybean Board.

"Just as manufacturing and service jobs have been “offshored” to Mexico, China, South Korea, India, and other countries, excessive regulation could eventually cause animal agriculture to move offshore. This could lead to higher consumer prices."

The five regulatory areas most likely to generate increased costs for US producers in the near term are animal housing, environmental regulations, the use of antimicrobials and other drugs, livestock trading, and labour regulations.

The European Commission is looking to drive forward an integrated approach to animal welfare. Objectives of a new animal welfare strategy include enhancing consumer empowerment and strengthening the enforcement of existing rules.

The idea of such a strategy comes from the belief that consumers are increasingly factoring in welfare considerations into their purchases. Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner, John Dalli said that giving consumers access to the right information so that they can make informed choices will help drive animal welfare policies forward.

However, farming group Copa-Cogeca warned against this strategy which it said would increase costs of production for producers.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said: "It is essential for farmers to be able to recover their additional costs from the market. EU farmers knowledge and efforts to ensure a high level of animal welfare must be recognised."

Also in the EU, European farmers' organisations have said that the proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) fail to grasp any opportunity and will in fact undermine the ability of EU farmers to be competitive, efficient and achieve sustainable growth.