9 May 2001
Ministers warned on ‘gold-plating’

By Alistair Driver

GOVERNMENT advisors have warned ministers once again not to disadvantage British farmers by gold-plating European Union regulations.

The governments inputs taskforce, chaired by Sir John Marsh, concluded that over-regulation presented significant trade barriers to British farmers.

The task force, commissioned to examine the difference in the cost of farm inputs in Britain and continental Europe, reported on Wednesday (9 May).

The document urges the government not to make farm inputs more expensive in Britain by adding extra requirements to EU regulations.

It follows similar warnings last year from the environmental red tape task force, which also concluded that the government was gold-plating EU directives.

The task force also recommends that the government backs measures to allow inputs authorised in one EU country to be sold in other Member States.

It urges the government to encourage farmers to work together to increase their buying power and efficiency.

The task force report also asks the government to liase with farming organisations to improve farmers computing skills.

Farmers are sometimes disadvantaged by competitive input prices because the reduced number of suppliers in some sectors has been greatly reduced.

Some input markets lack transparency, the report says.

Michael Paske, vice-president of the National Farmers Union, said the document underlined many NFU concerns about inputs.

“It is vital that the government acts on this advice if farmers are to make full use of the important commercial benefits available from open competition.”

The inputs task force spent three months collecting evidence from agricultural suppliers, manufacturers and producers.