Farmers have been cautioned against expecting too much from the government’s review of unnecessary agricultural red-tape.

“Over the years, ministers of different colours have always promised a bonfire of regulations and it never happens,” said farm minister Jim Paice.

“The reason is because most regulations actually have a good objective.”

Mr Paice made the comments at an NFU fringe meeting attended by 200 farmers and delegates at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Monday (4 October).

He said he had asked former NFU director general Richard Macdonald to examine ways of reducing over-zealous bureaucracy and the amount of red-tape surrounding agriculture.

Most success was likely to come from changing the way regulations were implemented and relaxing inspection regimes, rather than abolishing them altogether.

Enforcement should be based on trust, Mr Paice said.

He added: “We have to start accepting that the vast majority of farmers are not potential criminals.

“The vast majority of farmers will comply with the rules, but they want to do it in a way that suits their business, their approach and their farm.”

This was the quantum leap the government hoped Mr Macdonald would provide.

“When we look at inspections, we want to base them on the assessment of risk.

“If people have earned the entitlement to be trusted by joining a farm assurance scheme, then we should trust them to do the right thing.”

Findings from the red-tape review are expected to be reported in February.

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