Red tape accounts for one tenth of an average farm’s net profits

  • Posted

Posted 07/03/2013

Speaking recently at the Food, Farming and Rural Enterprise Board for Norfolk and Suffolk (FFREB), agricultural solicitor, Alex Butler-Zagni, highlighted the cost of regulation in the agricultural sector and its effect on growth.Red tape and its constraint on growth is a key priority for the FFREB. Speaking at the FFREB’s February meeting, Alex, who is based in Ashtons Legal’s Norwich office, reflected on the stark figures contained in a recent report by the National Audit Office: ‘Streamlining Farm Oversight’.The cost of regulation represents around one-tenth of an average farm’s net profit, at an average cost of £5,500 per farm in England. Nine Central Government bodies and all the local authorities visit farms, with at least 114,000 inspections taking place annually.  In its report, the NAO concludes that “Farm oversight activity does not deliver value for money for the taxpayer and continues to burden compliant farmers unnecessarily”. It highlights that there can be an 18.5% reduction in the number of farm inspections and goes on to say: “If English farmers are not to be disadvantaged in supplying our food sector, inspections must be proportionate and with minimum burden on the farm”.Alex Butler-Zagni states: “The NAO’s recommendations are clear. It recommends that all oversight bodies and delivery partners must come together to help improve information and intelligence sharing and use the best practice found in the East of England Farm Inspection Forum.”He went on to say: “At Ashtons Legal we frequently see the constraints that regulation has on growth. The National Planning Policy Framework must work with business to reflect the need for productive farms, which will secure a sound future for further generations. We recognise the problematic Judicial decisions surrounding poly-tunnels and on-farm reservoirs, and we see the impact of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Scheme on limiting the supply of seasonal labour, and some of the difficulties that have arisen out of the gangmaster licensing regulations.”To contact Alex, please click here. Further information:
Alex specialised in the Better Regulation agenda as NFU regional policy adviser between 2006-2012. He was interviewed as part of the NAO investigation and fed into the ‘Streamlining Farm Oversight’ report. In 2009, Alex set up and established the East of England Farm Inspection Forum as a joint venture with Cambridgeshire Trading Standards and acted as Secretary to the Forum.


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