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Farming Regulation: Is Your Agri-business Up to Speed?

Friday, 30 August 2013

Farming is a heavily regulated industry. Like any activity that poses health and safety risks, policymakers have a duty to protect people, animals and the environment from unnecessary harm.

However, as for many other business sectors, the amount of agencies and regulations related to farming only ever seems to increase and become more complicated. This red tape can produce a huge burden on farmers.

Keeping Up with Farming Regulation

The regulations and agencies individual farmers are subject to of course depend upon the nature of their business, primarily whether crops or livestock. The potential risks posed by a regulatory discrepancy are high as farmers can face investigation or prosecution from a vast array of agencies or bodies. These might include the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Trading Standards Institute, Environment Agency, Department for Transport, RSPCA, Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Food Standards Agency, Rural Payments Agency and the Police.

Keeping up with all the relevant regulation can be hugely complicated.

Getting Help with a Regulatory Strategy

This byzantine regulatory structure means that even the most hard working and diligent farmers can fall foul of the rules and be subject to some sort of investigation or prosecution. Like any legal action this is likely to cost time and money and be incredibly stressful.

The best strategy is obviously to avoid any legal action altogether and this will require a sound knowledge of the regulations and agencies affecting your particular type of farming. Solicitors with expertise in this area can help bring overburdened farmers up to speed and keep them abreast of the latest developments.

Some Relief from Red Tape

The government has recognised the need for reform and, as part of its drive to cut red tape, has been reviewing farming regulations since April 2011. The key areas its hopes to reform are regulation in regards to: farm inspections, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) paperwork, livestock movements and the environment.

It aims to make fewer, but more effective, inspections of farms by inspecting farms which maintain high standards less often.

For livestock movements it aims to make the rules simpler and reduce the amount of reporting farmers have to do by introducing the same set of rules for all livestock and an electronic system of reporting for sheep and goats by the end of 2014 (similar to the system for moving pigs).

A new IT system will be introduced to make it quicker and easier to apply for CAP subsides and new nitrates regulations will exempt record-keeping requirements for certain farms.

Make Sure You Get Expert Advice

These reforms mean that the regulatory burden on famers should reduce in the future although promises of bonfires of red tape should be treated with sceptical optimism. For more information contact Peter Gourri today by email PGourri@rollingsons.co.uk or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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