Red tape efforts a right mess

Defra's claim to be making significant progress towards its target of cutting agricultural red tape by 25pc is not being borne out by farmers' experience on the ground, according to a NFU survey.

Defra's claim to be making significant progress towards its target of cutting agricultural red tape by 25pc is not being borne out by farmers' experience on the ground, according to a NFU survey.

In May 2005, government departments agreed to reduce the administrative burden of regulation to businesses in the private sector by publishing an annual Simplification Plan in a bid to improve the whole regulatory experience by 2010.

However, according to nearly 200 NFU members who completed the Red Tape survey, things do not appear to be getting any better.

77pc of respondents felt red tape is now more demanding than last year while 95pc did not agree that regulation is easy to comply with. This shows the Better Regulation agenda has to deliver a meaningful impact on business.


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Meanwhile, 98pc of NFU members taking part in the survey disagreed that the government understands agriculture well enough to regulate, and no one felt they were now spending less time on form filling and keeping records compared to this time last year.

And members believe regulation concerning double-tagging, sheep ID and transport of livestock have become particularly burdensome.

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NFU vice-president Paul Temple said: "We appreciate that certain regulations are necessary, but farmers are now fed up with politicians claiming they want to cut red tape, when all the time, the demands of the regulators and

the number of inspections is growing. Defra ministers need to take a reality check and see what is happening out there on the ground through the eyes of farmers and growers.

"This survey has effectively shown that much more needs to be done, although it has given us some useful hard facts and a picture of the regulatory burdens on farms which we can use when we meet with MPs and policy makers. It will also help us influence regulatory decisions in the future."

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