Government should take advantage of the opportunity Brexit presents to create a regulatory environment for farming that is streamlined, grounded in science and respects realistic farm practices, a new NFU report argues.
As MPs return to Westminster and continue work on the EU Withdrawal Bill, the NFU has laid out its vision for a regulatory environment that supports farmers, the public and the environment in the final report of its Vision for the Future of Farming series.
The NFU strongly believes that new rules can work better while maintaining the same high standards that the public expect.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “Farmers recognise that regulation is a part of farming like any other business but they are often left frustrated with rules that do not always make practical sense on farm.
“Leaving the EU provides a unique opportunity to develop a regulatory environment that is better designed and effectively implemented to allow farmers to do what they do best – provide a safe and affordable supply of British food.”
The NFU is calling for regulation that:
· Increases the role of science and evidence
· Respects realistic farm practices in its design
· Takes account of good farming practice and membership of farm assurance schemes, and uses this earned recognition to reduce on-farm assessments
· Better recognises the impacts of rules on business costs and operation
· Includes a more balanced application of the Precautionary Principle
· Is proportional, taking into account the size of businesses
Raymond added: “The NFU has long maintained that any regulation should be scientifically evidenced, it should be implemented with minimal bureaucracy, and its impact on business should be fully assessed.
“Britain’s withdrawal from the EU provides the opportunity for the UK government to embrace these positive principles, improving the competitiveness of British farm businesses while ensuring continued access for our great British produce into overseas markets.
“However, to reach this point it is crucial the Government ensures the EU Withdrawal Bill provides certainty to farmers about the rules and regulation they will be subject to in the short and medium term, so that their businesses can thrive without considerable disruption after we leave the EU.
“A system that offers farmers the best business environment to farm not only benefits food production but the countryside and rural economy as a whole.”