NFU responds to red tape review

Scissors cutting red tape

The Cabinet Office Cutting Red Tape review sought evidence of unnecessary burdens when reporting information to national and local government in the agriculture sector with the aim of building on previous reviews to reduce burdens on farmers.

The NFU welcomed the review with NFU Deputy President, Minette Batters, saying:

“We want to be in a position where farmers and growers can focus on the business of producing British food rather than being professional form-fillers”

The cumulative impact of administrative burden and bureaucracy can have a negative impact on farming businesses and is often seen as a major hurdle to business competitiveness, too often removing farm managers from focusing on their business. NFU members regularly report that it is an issue of great concern. Therefore the NFU response to the consultation sets out some specific examples of burdensome information requirements and puts forward proposals on how these could be reduced, but outlined concern that further ‘red tape reviews’ are being undertaken while previous reviews have yet to be fully implemented. Specific regulations highlighted in the NFU response, where information requirements could be improved, include Countryside Stewardship, Six day standstill, Ten Mile Rule, the Nitrates Directive and Waste Regulations .

Thereare however a number of general principles that we feel should be adopted across Government when seeking and requesting information to ensure that ‘red tape’ and associated bureaucracy can be reduced. These are as follows:

  • Regulators need to consistently communicate on why information is being requested and how it will be used. A clearer explanation as to the purpose of each form/ request would lessen the perception that information is being requested unnecessarily.
  • Regulators need to demonstrate a better understanding of the farm business calendar and ensure there is sensitivity at peak periods when issuing requests for data.
  • Regulators should not collect superfluous data and should only request information that is actually needed. Indeed, the regulators code, already states the principle of ‘collect once, use many times’ should be followed by regulators when requesting information from those they regulate.
  • Forms should be pre-populated where possible to prevent farmers having to submit information that is already held in some form by Government

The full response can be found in the related documents box (members only).