Call to reduce agricultural inspections

Farm leaders have cited fewer on-farm inspections and simpler livestock movements as key ways of reducing agricultural red tape.

Separate calls by the NFU and the Farmers Union of Wales coincided with the launch of a government consultation aimed at reducing the burden of regulation on growers and livestock producers.

Reducing on-farm inspections could be achieved through greater co-ordination and data sharing between government departments, said the NFU. Livestock movements could be simplified without compromising disease control, it added.

NFU president Peter Kendall said the cumulative burden of regulation was hampering productivity. “The NFU has long lobbied for a reduction in costly red tape arguing that moving to a risk-based approach is the only answer.”

The government consultation applies to England only. But Welsh farmers are also calling for red tape to be slashed. The number of animal health inspectors at livestock markets could be halved, said FUW leader Gareth Vaughan.

“There are a lot of people in green wellies about the mart,” says Mr Vaughan, who runs a traditional beef and sheep unit at Cwmyrhiewdre Farm, Dolfor, near Newtown, Powys.

“In my own local mart there seem to be four or five inspectors; I think that’s overkill. Half that number could do the job. Government departments need to save money; here is an opportunity to make some cost savings.”

Routine market inspections are made by local authorities and government inspectors. They monitor animal welfare and operational procedures to limit the spread of infectious disease.

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said: “The level of inspection has recently been reduced and is currently under further review as part of the cost-saving measures being undertaken across government.”

The frequency of inspections had always been risk-based and modulated by factors such as a market’s history, its size and the type of livestock being sold, said the spokesman.

How to have your say

• You can submit your suggestions of the red tape you would like to see ripped up here.
• You can also write to: Task Force on Farming Regulation Area, 8D Millbank, DEFRA, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR
• Alternatively you can post your suggestions on the Farmers Weekly forums or send us a letter
• You have until Sunday 31 October to get in touch

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