Farmers Get Their Say on Stripping Out Red Tape

NFU Scotland is encouraging its members to get online and have their say on how the regulatory burden on farm business can be reduced.

In January 2012, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead launched a review into the level of red tape associated with Scottish farming and in June, the working group chairman, Brian Pack, laid out his scoping report for the initiative.

The next phase of the Scottish Government’s review of farming red tape gets underway today (Wednesday, 12 December) with an online consultation that offers individual farmers the chance to air their views on regulation.

Commenting on the announcement, NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said:

“Our members recognise that there needs to be an element of regulation around agriculture but the reality on-farm is that compliance with the current levels of red tape and bureaucracy has gone beyond what is acceptable. Many farm businesses now spend a disproportionate amount of time filling out paperwork to satisfy regulations rather than getting on with the job of farming, looking after their land and producing food.

“Previous attempts to reduce the regulatory burden such as the Scottish Environment and Rural Services (SEARS) initiative delivered benefits to the regulators but our members, who are being regulated, saw little or no change.  Brian Pack’s review is focused on the regulations and bureaucracy specific to land managers and farmers and has the potential to make a real difference.  By opening up the next stage of the review to on line comments from those most affected by the burden of regulation, farmers have a direct route in to tell Brian how things could be done better.

“The lengthy list of issues already identified by Brian’s initial discussions with industry highlight the scale of the burden.  Many Scottish producers would back regulatory improvements being made in the areas of cattle and sheep ID, livestock traceability and the environment.  Our members regularly tell us about the problems caused by the regulations.   Now is an opportunity for them to add their voice to the Union’s calls and to highlight to Brian where they see duplication and how things could be done better.

 “Engaging directly with farmers in this manner will help Brian focus on the key problem areas and ensure that solutions are identified which will make a difference to farm businesses. Many of our regulations originate in Brussels, so the opportunity to get rid of these completely is limited.   However, we can look at implementation in a more imaginative way so that we satisfy European objectives without asking Scottish farmers to jump through unnecessary hoops.

“While everyone buys into the concept of reduced regulation, the delivery is much more difficult to achieve.   Given the importance of this matter to our members, we are asking them to assist Brian by logging on and having their say on red tape.” 

Notes to Editors

  • The public e-consultation – a key part of Brian Pack’s wider review of farming bureaucracy - will allow farmers, land mangers, the wider agricultural supply chain and anyone with an interest in farming to engage in constructive online discussions about how Scottish farming should be regulated in future.
  • The online discussion is available here: Participants can register with any username, so they can post anonymously.
  • The public phase will build on online dialogue that has already started between people involved in regulating the industry.  Among the topics which have been already been highlighted to the review are:
    • Simplifying cattle identification and traceability - the biggest cause of cross compliance failure in Scotland
    • Making better use of online resources and communication between farmers / land managers and the regulators
    • Simplifying sheep traceability - is the current Scottish system going beyond what is required by the EU?
    • Streamlining regulatory paperwork and inspections to free up time for farmers to farm
    • Considering how best to encourage farmers to minimise pollution and climate change impacts without unnecessary regulation


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 148/12

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