DEFRA will start work immediately on cutting red tape in agriculture, farm minister Jim Paice has said.
While the government could not promise to act on all of the 214 recommendations made by the farming regulation task force, Mr Paice said the battle to reduce paperwork had already begun.
Speaking at the unveiling of the taskforce’s recommendations in London on Tuesday (17 May), the minister said farmers needed to be freed from unnecessary burdens so they could get on with the job of producing food.
He said farmers could not be expected to maintain high standards while being wrapped up in red tape.
“We must trust the industry’s ability to produce our food, manage our countryside and contribute to our economic recovery,” he said.
“Most regulations have a sensible objective and we want to retain the standards they are trying to deliver, but in the past, governments have enforced regulation by becoming obsessive with process. Regulation should be a last resort, not a first one. We need greater partnership between government and industry.”
Mr Paice said a number of areas had already been identified where immediate changes could be made, including improving record-keeping on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and simplifying reports on livestock movements.
He also announced the creation of a Strategic Regulatory Scrutiny Panel to “challenge and advise” DEFRA on the way it delivers policies. Chaired by an independent industry representative, the panel will assess how rules are devised and implemented to ensure unnecessary regulation is avoided.
“There are issues like EID which are at a European level and will obviously take longer to address, but I have challenged senior DEFRA officials to be bold as we look at how to implement the recommendations,” Mr Paice said.
DEFRA will publish an initial response to the taskforce’s report in the autumn, before producing a final response next year, he added.