Leadsom pledges red tape action for farming industry

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom has vowed to cut red tape for the farming industry. 

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Leadsom said there would be a consultation on how a “common sense” approach could be applied to the sector when Great Britain leaves the European Union.

According to Defra estimates, dealing with red tape and farm inspections costs the industry £5 million (m) per year and the loss of 300,000 hours.

“For too long, a bureaucratic system which tries to meet the needs of 28 countries has held farmers back,” she said. “But now, leaving the EU means we can focus on what works best for the United Kingdom.

“By cutting the red tape that comes out of Brussels, we will free our farmers to grow more, sell more and export more great British food whilst upholding our high standards for plant and animal health and welfare. My priority will be common sense rules that work for the United Kingdom.”

National Farmers’ Union president Meurig Raymond welcomed the pledge but called for more clarity on trade post-Brexit. ““The Secretary of State has said she will be looking to scrap the rules that hold back farming as she works with Government on the UK’s exit from the EU. The NFU has long argued for the removal of burdensome red tape that hampers farming businesses from doing what they do best – producing great, quality, British food. In particular, the commitment to end the three crop rule will be particularly welcomed by farmers.

“However, whilst we welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to reduce red tape after leaving the EU, there are more immediate concerns that need addressing and it is disappointing that there is no further clarity on access to the single market, how farms will continue to have access to a reliable workforce and what the ambitions are for a future domestic agricultural policy.”

Elsewhere in her speech to the conference, Leadsom assured the industry that she was “fully committed to securing the best possible deal for the UK” and that leaving the EU was a chance to design a domestic successor to the Common Agricultural Policy. 

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