Farmers' confidence in regulatory system in need of serious repair - NFU leader says

Any sweeping changes to rules governing farming practices must restore farmers' battered confidence in the regulatory system, the president of the National Farmers' Union said.

Regulators and farmers must be brought together effectively through a new regulatory system for the agricultural sector, said NFU president Minette Batters.

A new regulatory regime for farming has been proposed in a report published today by Dame Glenys Stacey.

Proposals include better use of technology, such as drones to inspect farms, but the NFU said what is most important is that any new system creates a culture of co-operation between regulators and farm businesses.

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Minette Batters, the union’s president, said: “Her (Dame Glenys) recommendations have the potential to deliver a regulation and inspection regime that is not only fit for purpose, but also promotes a culture where regulators and farm businesses work together.”

A central plank of the proposals for a new system is the creation of a single regulator with one field force. Currently, five Defra bodies and local authorities are involved in regulating farming and land management.

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Ms Batters said for a single regulatory body to be a success it should be able to incentivise a new domestic farm policy.

The union boss added: “Any new system must restore confidence in our regulatory system, support farm businesses and allow them to continue producing safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.”

As she published her report, Dame Glenys said farmers currently receive too little practical advice or guidance by regulators to ensure they comply with rules and that automatic financial penalties had “become the norm when at times they are unfair”.