GOVERNMENT HAS, yet again, been urged to cut the red tape burden that is hampering the British food and farming industry.

At the Semex dairy conference, held this week in Glasgow, government’s food and farming advisor, Sir Don Curry, said it was essential that Whitehall reduced the burden by making sure that regulations were proportionate, and that their aggregate impact did not smother businesses in red tape and stifle enterprise.

“For nearly 60 years, government has been telling farmers what they can and can’t do. Now it is time to be unshackled. It is right politically and, I believe, right commercially,” he said.

Jim Begg, director general of Dairy UK, told delegates that the food and farming industry had to challenge the regulations being imposed by government that led to significantly higher business costs.

“What governments tend to mean when they de-regulate, is that they remove themselves from responsibility for the economic viability of the industry. But, at the same time, they introduce scoops full of regulations that impose a huge bureaucratic cost burden on the industry,” he said.

“So what’s the point of the industry striving to develop competitiveness in factories and on farms if we get saddled with other costs?” Mr Begg challenged, citing the climate change levy, water framework directive, packaging waste compliance and the animal by-products regulations as examples.

As well as red tape, Sir Don also highlighted the need for an urgent review by government and the industry of the Code of Retail Practice.

He said: “The current power imbalance between producers and retailers has led to a lack of trust and confidence. A better way has to be found to establish sustainable trading relationships throughout the supply chain.”