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Union Welcomes Farm Focus to Red Tape Review

NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement that Scotland’s investigation into the levels of red tape and bureaucracy in the agricultural sector will primarily focus on the impact at farm level.

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.  At Scotsheep 2012 - a major one-day sheep event taking place at The Morrisons Farm, Dumfries House, Cumnock – the working group chairman, Brian Pack, laid our his scoping report for the initiative.

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

“For our members, there is a recognition that there needs to be an element of regulation around agriculture but the reality is that compliance with the current levels of red tape and bureaucracy eats into far too much time. Any farm business now expends a disproportionate amount of effort filling out the paperwork and satisfying the regulations rather than getting on with the job of farming and producing food.

“Brian Pack’s review provides an opportunity to consider what is required and appropriate at farm level and how that can be delivered in a pragmatic way.

“We welcome Brian’s focus on regulations being at a farm level as that presents the greatest opportunity to deliver meaningful change.  The danger with such reports is that they are over-ambitious, deliver a wide ranging list of recommendations but can deliver little in practical terms that make a difference to the farmer. 

“Focussing on the farm from the outset will help manage expectation on what the report can ultimately deliver.  Few will recall that Scotland already carried out an IACS red tape review in 2000 but, at farm level, many would struggle to identify any positive outcome from that paper. 

“We also need farmers to bear in mind that with many of the regulations originating in Brussels, the opportunity to rid ourselves of these is limited.   However, we can look at implementation in a more imaginative way so that we satisfy Europe that we are achieving the objectives without asking our farmers to jump through unnecessary hoops.

“Brian’s two-pronged approach makes good sense.   Firstly, he wants organisations and individuals to actively engage in the process and identify what are the regulatory challenges?  To that end, we will be asking our committees to drill down and nail the two or three most burdensome regulations for their sector so that we can give Brian a clear steer on the priorities.

“Secondly, Brian wants to capture the regulators’ views, in confidence, on how regulations can be delivered in a more effective manner.  The closed, private network for responses that Brian is facilitating to allow individuals to give their views should deliver some interesting thoughts on how we can meet our obligations but deliver them in a less cumbersome way.

“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 will assist and help Brian in any way possible.” 

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 57/12


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