15 November 2000
Brown pledges action on red tape

By Alistair Driver

THE government has pledged to give careful consideration to a report which warns ministers that farmers are being strangled by red tape.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown said that the report, commissioned by the Prime Minister, was “very timely” and acknowledged its central message.

“The Government recognises the need to achieve a balance between the interests of all stakeholders,” he said.

“We need to make sure that the burden that regulation places on farmers and landowners should be targeted to achieve the safeguards we need but no more.”

The report, by the Better Regulation task force, chaired by Lord Haskins, was released on Wednesday (15 November).

Struggling farmers who are being weighed down by countless European Union regulations need some respite, it said.

The government will give its official response in the New Year after discussing the report at a farm summit in London next Thursday (23 November).

The National Farmers Union said the report vindicated its concerns about the effect of red tape on the industry.

NFU president Ben Gill welcomed the recommendation to use the unions British Farm Standard scheme as a single, overriding farm assurance scheme.

He said: “It is important that it is seen as just the beginning of the of the process, rather than a culmination in the fight against over-regulation.”

Bob Parry, president of the Farmers Union of Wales said over-regulation was driving farmers out of business and encouraging cheaper, less-regulated imports.

“This report was ordered by the Prime Minister himself,” he said.

“I am not exaggerating when I say that as far as farming is concerned, it is one of the most important documents to be published this year.”