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    Farm Industry Plan For Dealing With EU Law
21/02/06

The implementation of European rules requires an overhaul according to NFU Scotland. NFUS is proposing a new model to put common sense back at the heart of government’s approach to European regulation.

With the increasing burden of government regulation threatening to damage the viability of family farms, NFUS believes it is time to address the current approach to implementation which can be more strict than in other EU countries whilst delivering little additional public benefit. NFUS is stressing that the positive aspects of farming must be encouraged, rather than the authorities seeking to restrict agricultural activity.

Recent government plans to implement EU Directives have flown in the face of common sense, according to NFUS. The latest moves include implementing part of a Directive which will actually encourage companies to turn their back on a clean, renewable fuel and switch to using highly polluting heavy oil*. Another set of proposals would classify field stones as ‘commercial waste’, requiring farmers to use a licensed landfill site for disposal**.

NFUS President John Kinnaird said:

“We need sensible regulation, based on sound science, which protects our environment and ensures the highest standards of animal welfare and food safety. That delivers clear benefits to farmers as well as consumers.

“In Scotland, Land Management Contracts are a vehicle to support the huge amount of work that Scottish farms undertake to protect the environment and strengthen our animal health status. There is far more we could do, in particular to fight climate change through the development of renewable fuels.

“However, despite assurances that goldplating will be avoided, government still seems to have a ‘regulate first, ask questions later’ policy of dealing with EU Regulations. As a result, we are faced with often ludicrous restrictions, which are completely unnecessary and deliver very little for the environment or public. The EU Regulations and Directives facing Scottish farms are often aimed at problems which are insignificant in this country.

“For example, everyone agrees with the principle of protecting our water quality, but imposing huge costs onto farms for using water where it is plentiful and where there are no quality problems is ludicrous. Likewise, it seems madness to ask vehicles transporting livestock to install heating systems to ensure temperatures are above 5 degrees when we have hardy livestock that are able to spend most of their winters outdoors with no health problems.

“We propose a new model which would bring trust back to the regulatory process. If there is going to be new regulation, evidence must be presented to justify it, a cost/benefit analysis on charges is essential and the whole process must be transparent. Sadly, that is all lacking at the moment.”

NFUS is proposing a six-stage process for determining how new EU laws are implemented in Scotland:

Step 1 - Determine if EU Regulation/Directive is relevant to Scotland.
Step 2 - Present evidence to justify the conclusion, in particular where problems vary in different areas of the country.
Step 3 - Determine if there is an alternative to regulation i.e. information campaigns/voluntary codes/incentive-based schemes - and consult with stakeholders to determine approach.
Step 4 - If regulation is the best option, target it at priority areas.
Step 5 - Do a full cost-benefit analysis, open to public scrutiny, prior to implementation.
Step 6 - Ensure charges are transparent, with a full breakdown of costs. Charges must be benchmarked against other areas of UK and EU.

An inquiry into the implementation of EU Directives is currently being undertaken by Jim Wallace MSP on behalf of the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee. NFUS has submitted its evidence, a copy of which is available on request.

NOTES:

  • *The Waste Incineration Directive (WID), which came into force at the end of 2005, aims to limit harmful emissions from the incineration of waste. However, the wording of the Directive means that tallow (rendered animal fat) is also defined as waste, despite it being used by the rendering industry as a renewable fuel (it is used in steam-raising boilers to power the rendering process). The rendering process has never been associated with the risks the Directive seeks to minimise. To comply with WID, plants would have to install costly equipment that few have the space for. As a result, unless this problem is addressed, this environmental Directive would force plants to revert to burning heavy fuel oil rather than a green, renewable fuel. Up to 22 member states have said that tallow can still be burnt, the UK Government has not.
  • **The EU Landfill Directive aims to ensure responsible disposal of waste. However, proposals currently out to consultation mean that field stones would be defined as ‘commercial waste’. As a result, farmers would ultimately have to dispose of them in a licensed landfill site.

link Welcome Clarification On National Reserve
link NFUS Responds to Agricultural Levy Board Review
link Westminster Meetings Highlight Food Supply Chain Concerns

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National Farmers' Union
NFU Scotland