The NFU has presented the key findings from its Focus on Enforcement report into livestock inspections.
Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and from Defra heard our findings at a Parliamentary Star Chamber at the House of Commons.
The Business Focus on Enforcement initiative is giving trade associations the dominant role in identifying enforcement issues and driving reform to benefit their industry.
We were selected as one of three trade associations to lead a review. In our case, the aim was to gather evidence from an industry perspective on livestock visits, examining the potential for duplication and overlap between national regulators and local authorities.
At the Star Chamber last week, the NFU shared key findings about the impact of current enforcement practices on livestock farmers. Our evidence showed:
- The potential for duplication and overlap between regulatory agencies and local authorities
- Inconsistency around inspections with different risk assessments used and different data sharing arrangements in place across regulators.
- That the frequency of visits can vary with some farmers being subject to multiple inspections from a number of regulators in a short period of time.
- We also found there can be a lack of clarity and communication sometimes provided by regulators as to the purpose of the visit and why the farm has been selected for an inspection
As part of the Star Chamber process, ministers and regulators were asked to respond to findings and propose reforms to the way in which regulations are enforced.
Defra and BIS both welcomed the evidence the NFU had gathered.
Defra said it is developing an inspection planning and data sharing tool, Find-It, that joins data from different data sets held across the Defra network. This tool could be used to plan visits to avoid duplication across regulators.
In responding to the NFU evidence on communication, Defra proposed it would look at ways in which this could be improved so there is better clarity for those subject to farm visits
The NFU report and a full response from regulators will be published in March.