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NPA's red-tape concerns

by 5m Editor
21 October 2004, at 12:00am

UK - Darius Campbell at Defra, recently briefed NPA on Defra's work to produce a strategy that will reduce red-tape on farms. Welcoming this initiative, Ann Petersson has now written to him summarising members' concerns.

National
Pig
Association

National Pig Association
THE VOICE OF THE UK PIG INDUSTRY

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & Whitehall, and with processors, supermarkets & caterers - fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

  • Legislation that is not proportionate to risk.

  • Disproportionate cost/benefits.

  • Not targeted on real problem.

  • Underestimating cost impact on pig industry.

  • Government's need to recognise the cumulative cost and burden impact of legislation on industry.

  • Conflicting legislation, from EU and UK, for example, on how frequently ditches can be sludged out, and what happens to the sludge. Similarly, environmental pressures for slatted floors, and the conflicting welfare pressures for straw accommodation.

  • Inability in the pig industry to pass on regulatory costs, unlike other industries.

  • Paperwork overload, especially on small family businesses.

  • Avoid duplication of inspections - this is time-consuming for the farm business, and creates biosecurity risks.

  • Inspections should be targeted at those that do not comply.

  • Loss of competitiveness, especially to other EU producers, from unilateral legislation.

  • The need for government to investigate equivalent situations in other member states.

  • The inappropriateness of "one size fits all" EU legislation, which fails to recognise the differing pig production systems even within a country and attempts, for example, to fit rules for indoor production to the third of our breeding herd which is outdoors.

  • Difficulty in making long-term business plans, when the content and impact of imminent legislation is unknown. Fears of what is round the corner.

The National Pig Association believes that effective communication is crucial to the successful delivery of a farm regulation strategy. It notes the Cabinet Office's code of practice on government's consultations, and would focus on the following key points:

  • Keep the message simple, using plain English appropriate to the target audience.

  • Be clear about what the proposed legislation aims to achieve. For example, is the objective to benefit animal welfare or the environment? A clear short summary at the start would be helpful. Do not confuse the issue by heaps of forms to complete and boxes to tick.

  • Adopt a joined-up approach remembering that the farming industry is at the receiving end of a wide range of regulations and directives, and will lose sight of the objective of the new rules, if they are contradictory with other requirements.

  • Guidelines, rather than new legislation, may be more appropriate to formalise good farming practice.

  • Incentives, for example, to encourage completing on-line the Single Payment form, June Returns, with VTS funding available for IT training.

"The NPA is encouraged by the recent more positive interest by government to understand producers' concerns," says Mrs Petersson. "Our discussions with officials, especially on the transport proposals, have illustrated how a good understanding by government officials of the UK pig industry has enabled producers to meet legislative requirements, yet still allow the industry to compete."

Source: National Pig Association - 21st October 2004

5m Editor