Burden of regulation must be reduced

NFU officials have warned that the government must reduce the burden of regulation if farmers are to survive CAP reform.

Speaking at the NFU conference yesterday (24 October), Thomas Binns said that if the government wants to leave the industry to the market forces it must unshackle farmers from some regulatory costs.

"You can't throw people into the open marketplace with one hand and one leg tied behind their back," he said.

"As an industry we accept that public safety is paramount but science has moved on and BSE controls are based on the science of ten years ago.

"So far the marketplace response to CAP reform has been disappointing and the costly burden of regulation has to be addressed."

Current regulatory laws come from many sources including EU, central government and devolved administrations. This has led to some confusion and variance as to how laws are interpreted, which is having a negative effect on competitiveness.

"There is an unlevel playing field both nationally- between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland- and in the EU," said Binns.

Peter King, NFU chief livestock advisor, said: "We need a more proportionate risk based approach. Legislation must not impinge on us delivering what the customer requires and competing on an open market."

He added that responsibility sharing could lead to a more balanced approach to legislation in the future, but only if the government earned confidence among farmers.

"To enable responsibility sharing to work there will need to be a genuine relationship between government and farmer and both parties must have a say on the development and implementation of policies," he said.

Binns warned that if the government does not act soon farmers will start going out of production, which will leave the UK even more reliant on imports.

"It is time we took politicians to task in recognising that food security is the issue of today not something to start thinking about tomorrow," he said.

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