NFUS declares war on red tape

UK - A new action group has been formed to address the huge concerns of the farming industry over unnecessary red tape. The Regulation Action Group comprises industry specialists brought together by NFU Scotland as part of its campaign against the increasing burden and cost of regulation.
calendar icon 25 July 2006
clock icon 4 minute read

The group will also assist the Scottish Executive with its agricultural strategy, which includes an action point to examine this issue.

The group will be reviewing the total regulatory burden facing farms up and down the country and challenging both government and enforcement authorities where it is shown that regulations are imposing an unacceptable cost for little or no benefit. The group is seeking rationalisation of the regulatory regime.

Chairman of the group, Jim McLaren said:

“Our regulatory system has spun out of control. Farms are facing a continual increase in red tape, with massive associated charges. Yet, there is little evidence or explanation of the reasons why or the benefits. I fully accept there will always be a level of regulation because, as farmers, we are producing food and managing land. However, it must be sensible and proportionate regulation to ensure it benefits all; the environment, consumers and farms themselves.

“Most recently, NFUS has managed to overturn proposals to ban the use of tallow as a renewable fuel, charge arable farmers £3000 to change irrigation locations and deal with field stones as though they were dangerous waste. There are serious questions as to how these proposals arise in the first place. Our group is going to take a long hard look at the system churning out these regulations. We require transparency and accountability back in the decision-making process to bring common sense back into future decisions. We are also focussed on a significant rationalisation of the current, costly level of unnecessary regulation.”

Maitland Mackie said:

“I am delighted to be part of this initiative. Having recently returned to the industry ‘coalface’ to help my son on the farm, I have been appalled by the level of regulatory interference in our business - and for what benefit? We operate in a tough commercial world and have to be competitive. To do that we have to roll back the state from industry, reduce unnecessary interference and allow good businesses to operate effectively.”

Professor John Hillman added:

“Excessive regulation suppresses entrepreneurialism. It impedes the uptake of new technologies and hinders business innovation. Without addressing this issue, the capacity of Scottish farmers to compete in the market place and contribute to the Scottish economy and countryside will continue to be reduced. From a position of international leadership, the industry is now being weighed down by costly, time-consuming controls which threaten its viability.”

George Barton, SAC’s principle agricultural consultant and fellow Action Group member said:

“In my experience, farmers take a responsible attitude to their farms and the environment in which they operate. From time to time, problems are identified. However, by developing best practice in a specific problem area you can achieve far better results than by simply regulating, which often causes confusion and further concern to the industry.”

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