An interim report looking to tackle the level of red tape suffocating Scottish farmers has been welcomed by NFU Scotland.
The interim report: “Doing Better Initiative to Reduce Red Tape in Agriculture”, produced independently for the Scottish Government by well-known industry spokesman Brian Pack, has an initial list of 72 recommendations that could make a difference to the bureaucracy faced by those in the industry.
The recommendations include a mix of measures that are aspirational, and would require legislative changes, along with some which are within Scottish Government’s discretion. Action on some recommendations is already underway.
NFUS will study the recommendations in detail, consult with members, and respond to the initial report by the February 2014 deadline.
NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said: “Our members accept that there needs to be an element of regulation around agriculture but the feeling on-farm is that compliance with the current levels of red tape and bureaucracy has gone beyond what is acceptable or practical.
“Many farm businesses spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about compliance and regulations rather than getting on with the job of farming, looking after their land and producing food.
“The length of the list identified by Brian highlights the scale of the problem but his recommendations, if delivered, have the potential to make a real difference.
“We will go through them in some detail, look at those that may require legislative change and identify those that can be adopted quickly.
“Many Scottish producers would back regulatory improvements being made in the areas of cross-compliance, inspections, cattle and sheep ID, livestock traceability and the environment.”
“Of note are Brian’s recommendations around notice periods for on-farm inspections – something that would tackle the fear producers have over inspectors arriving with little or no notice on farm. Similarly, the grey area around what land is deemed eligible or ineligible for support would benefit from Brian’s suggestion of building tolerance levels into claims.
“And we also echo Brian’s concerns that the new CAP reform package, due to be implemented by 2015, may only add to the weight of regulation.
“This interim report is an important step in a process that must lift or mitigate any unnecessary regulatory burden away from Scottish farmers and let them get on with the job of producing food. That would be to the benefit of both the regulated and the regulators.”