ASSURANCE SCHEMES could be undermined by increasing nit-picking demands on primary producers.

This is the warning from Essex growers Allan and Robert Stevenson, who feel they are being strangled by red tape.

“We are in danger of losing excellent farmers because they are drowning in protocols,” said Robert.

“How can working farmers, especially those on their own, satisfy all the red tape requests and still find time to run their farms properly?”

The Stevensons‘ comments come in response to the FARMERS WEEKLY War on Red Tape campaign.

As part of the campaign to drive down the red tape burden, FWi users can now vote for how much various aspects of pointless paperwork make their blood boil.

The overall winner of the Red Tape Rage board  – the item voted most unnecessary, pedantic, over-zealous, nit-picking, duplicated, or frustrating – will be announced at Cereals 2004.

Robert Stevenson fears that work spent on seemingly needless protocols could tempt growers to cut corners.

An example is Tesco Nature‘s Choice request regarding potato storage.

“My brother, Allan, must have spent three to four hours making phone calls trying to find out if the wood we use for repairing our boxes comes from renewable resources, and I still don‘t think he has the answer,” he said.

“For the amount we use, possibly 10 planks a year, I believe that‘s completely over the top.”

• We think it‘s time to expose those responsible for the creeping tide of red tape threatening to overwhelm the industry.

So whether its NRoSO neurosis, verifier vitriol or IACS headaches that makes your blood boil the most, don‘t just get mad – get even with the Red Tape Rage board.

More information on the War on Red Tape campaign can be found in the Arable section of FARMERS WEEKLY.