The independent Farming Regulation Task force has made 214 recommendations to DEFRA on how to ease the burden of red tape on farmers.
The “challenging but deliverable” recommendations fall into two groups – ways to change the culture of regulation and proposals to change specific legislation:
Shifting from bureaucracy to responsibility and partnership.
Partnership between government and industry must be improved and strengthened. Industry should be allowed to demonstrate responsibility to justify receiving government’s trust.
New approach to inspection and enforcement that is targeted and fairer.
Penalties must be proportionate: stiff punishments for major misdemeanours but a light touch for breaches of process and minor non-compliance.
Government to reduce and reform paperwork to make it easier for businesses to operate.
The government should set a vision of moving more paperwork online and must promote and make better use of the Farming Theme of Business Link.
Government should better understand farming and farmers in order to influence behaviour, agree outcomes and develop and implement ways of achieving change without recourse to regulation.
UK engagement in the EU must be greater, earlier and in partnership with industry.
The government should lead change in the EU, pressing the European institutions to place the “end-user” at the centre of EU policy-making and regulation.
Address number and type of on-farm inspections.
There is little benefit in official inspection of low-risk, normally compliant premises. Inspections must be clearly risk-based, targeted and, where possible, organised so they work with normal business practice, rather than disrupting it.
Develop principle of earned recognition.
Local authorities should not inspect the same requirements that are checked by DEFRA agencies and delivery partners as part of cross-compliance inspections.
Change planning regulations to allow farm businesses to adapt, innovate and grow.
Current regulations on permitted development and the prior notification procedure should be amended so thresholds for agricultural developments are increased.
Introduce a new Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme.
Amendments should be made to the gangmasters licensing system to make inspections more targeted while still protecting workers.
Simplify specific regulations, notably for livestock movements, Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, the Single Payment Scheme, environmental permitting and food chain information.
DEFRA must move to collecting data required for agricultural surveys completely online.
Reduce burdens of process without compromising environmental protection.
Nitrate regulations are blunt, inflexible and ineffective. Must be a significant reduction in the paperwork and calculations required in proving compliance.
Water must be better managed as a resource for agriculture.
DEFRA must lift specific burdens relating to private water supplies, water fittings regulations, and abstraction licences is important.
Environmental permitting forms and guidance should be tailored to the agricultural sector.
The need for farmer registration could be reduced by applying a general licence to some negligible risk waste activities. A three-tier approach to waste regulations and exemptions should be adopted.
Farmers should be able to dispose of fly-tipped material at council waste sites.
Government should ensure greater consistency across its policies relating to renewable energy in the farming sector and make specific recommendations for individual regimes.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and cross-compliance. DEFRA’s negotiating position for the CAP 2014−20 should include a focus on the need for simplicity and resist mechanisms such as capping and quotas that would introduce unnecessary complexity.
Improving Single Payment Scheme.
Mapping system must be simplified, payments should only be made to holdings above 5ha. Officials should also make greater use of pre-populated forms and maximise use of online applications, remove crop codes and ensure cross-compliance conditions are focused on outcomes rather than process.
Replacement system for animal ID and movement controls.
Introduce electronic reporting of animal movements and a single, distance-limited County Parish Holding number that allows farm-to-farm movement of animals without triggering a six-day standstill.
Improve pesticides regulatory regime.
Increased support for specific off-label approvals and minor uses and the regulatory framework for pesticides should be made risk-based. The government should also push for harmonisation at a EU level, to give growers access to the most effective pesticides.
Address meat hygiene controls.
Consistently competent meat processors should be able to source meat inspection services from accredited private-sector providers within a system managed by the competent authority. Government should take the lead in piloting innovative inspection processes to the EU Commission.
Greater use of “cold inspection” in small processors with appropriate facilities.
Government should make maximum use of derogations in EU law controlling TSEs and support proportionate, risk-based changes, including the TSE roadmap and implement changes without delay once agreed.
Address antibiotic failures in milk and remove the Beef Labelling Scheme.
DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency should engage constructively with current reviews on sampling veterinary residues and trichinella controls. Earned recognition should be used to help reduce paperwork arising from food chain information requirements and to reduce inspections of poultry and egg producers.