2017-09-20 

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NFUS Launches Post Brexit Priorities for Legislative Change

NFU Scotland has mapped out the priorities for legislative change that would significantly ease the regulatory burden on Scotland’s farmers and crofters.

Launching its document ‘Post-Brexit Priorities for Legislative CHANGE’ at Tillyrie Farm, near Milnathort, Kinross, the Union identified elements of legislation that could be removed or improved during the period between the UK exiting the EU, and before the implementation of any new UK and Scottish agricultural policies.

Cows

The Union is calling for changes that would:

  • Protect supply chain integrity and agriculture’s profitability.

  • Introduce proportionality in penalties, mapping and record-keeping requirements.

  • See decisions on legislation based on risk rather than perceived ‘hazard’.

On profitability, one example includes tackling ‘greening’ and removing Europe’s ‘three-crop rule’ which requires Scottish farmers to grow three different crops if they want to secure the greening element of support. That would end a blunt EU requirement that does little for the environment, impacts on farm businesses, restricts the ability to grow for real markets and can be replaced with smarter environmental alternatives.

The Union would also wish to see the draconian and disproportionate penalty system for those accidentally breaching rules replaced with a ‘yellow card’ warning system for minor breaches allowing time for unintentional errors to be rectified.

And on risk-based legislation, one clear example of proportionate reform would see sheep producers only required to individually tag animals with electronic identification when the leave the holding of birth.

The Union is clear that re-writing the rulebook to introduce more common sense in how we secure environmental and animal welfare standards, traceability, and accountability would not only benefit farmers and crofters but be of value to those officials currently charged with enforcing complex and confusing regulations.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said:
“A long-standing objective of NFU Scotland is to reduce the regulatory burden under which Scottish farmers and crofters currently operate.

“That is a process which has seen several attempts – not least the Brian Pack-led ‘Doing Better’ regulatory review of 2015 – but delivering changes that make a meaningful difference to bureaucracy or the fear of inspection and penalties at farm level has been frustratingly difficult to achieve.

“With the EU Withdrawal Bill expected to be in place by 2019, the opportunity exists to identify priorities for legislative change now and deliver on these during the period between the UK exiting the EU, and before the implementation of any new UK and Scottish agricultural policies.

“Brexit must allow us to replace elements of EU agricultural regulation that are bureaucratic, ineffective or ill-tailored to farming conditions in the UK and Scotland. I firmly believe that elements can be redesigned or implemented in a better way.

“Regulation should always be appropriate, proportionate, evidence-based and as light-touch as possible. A successful approach to delivering regulation would involve more carrot and less stick, a yellow card warning system for unintentional breaches and encouragement farmers to do what they do best – provide a safe and affordable supply of food.

“Working with the industry, sound regulation and justifiable legislation around the environment, animal health and food safety would underpin the crucial role that Scotland’s farmers and crofters in delivering the nation’s food and drink.”

NFUS

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