The Conservative Party has unveiled proposals to simplify agricultural regulation and ease the burden on farmers.

In preparation for future office the Conservatives are to review all regulations with a view to simplification, stopping the culture of gold-plating and over-implementation and ending duplication of inspections.

Evidence from the NFU and gleaned from government reviews and answers to parliamentary questions has led the Conservatives to accuse the government of eroding competitiveness and entrepreneurialism in the agricultural sector.

Empowering farmers

Shadow junior DEFRA secretary Jim Paice said the intention was to empower farmers to make decisions most suited to the conditions on their farms, rather than being dictated to by regulation.

“It is about time government trusted farmers to do the right thing and got out of the mindset that without micro-management irresponsible methods wouldprevail.

“Of course, high standards are important – and must be maintained – but it is the outcomes that matter and, as long as they are met, we will let farmers determine the methods that best suit the conditions on their farm.”

Farm assurance schemes

The proposals also include the proposition that regulations should be measured by outcome, not process, and a greater reliance placed on farm assurance schemes to remove the need for multiple inspections.

The catchment sensitive farming requirements, for example, are estimated by DEFRA to impose administrative costs of £390,000, but the policy costs could reach £210m when capital expenditure on complying is considered.