Fighting for Fylde farmers

First question in the House of Commons

FYLDE’S new Member of Parliament, Mark Menzies, has asked his first question in the House of Commons, focusing on slashing red tape to help Fylde’s farmers.

Speaking at a Departmental Question time on Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Mark asked the Secretary of State for DEFRA, Caroline Spelman, what plans her department had to reduce regulation on farmers.

In reply, Minister of State for DEFRA, James Paice MP, himself a farmer, said the new coalition Government wanted to slash “bureaucratic burdens” on the food and farming industry.

Mr Menzies said: “It was an honour to ask my first question in the House, particularly on such a key topic.

“Fylde farmers raise the issue of reducing red tape and form filling whenever I have met with them.  So I am delighted that the government are planning action to address this.

“It is vital that food producers are encouraged rather than tied up in red tape.”

The Government are now setting up a new industry-led taskforce on food and farming regulation which will identify ways to reduce regulatory burdens.

And the move was today welcomed by a leading Fylde farmer.

Paul Rigby, whose family owns a number of farms across the borough, said:  “”If the Government are planning to cut down on this bureaucracy and EC bureaucracy they are definitely on the right track.”

“At the moment, there is so much that big farms might need a secretary.

“There’s the annual census, a crop census, the Single Farm Payment scheme, the Soil Protection Review, the water code, the air code, the management of landscapes and habitats.

“There are also the Environment Agency’s rules with the Independent Pollution Protection Code (IPPC).

“If you keep livestock intensively you have got to have a licence which costs about £6,000 and £3,000 to £4,000 annually.

“There are also voluntary schemes that you have to keep on top of like farm assurance schemes.

“It’s incredible the amount of work you have to do.”

As part of his response to Mr Menzies question, Mr Paice said the Government would put greater trust in farmers.

Michael Tomlinson, who runs Salwick Hall Farm near Preston also welcomed the move and said a law called “the six day movement rule” – one of the issues which will be considered by the new task force – was a problem.

The six-day rule was put in place as a way of reducing the risk of another out-break of foot-and-mouth disease, which struck in 2001 and in 2007.

The rule says “movements must not take place from any premises where one or more animals have been moved in the six day period prior to the movement”, except direct to slaughter.

“We want free movement of animals from farm to farm,” Mr Tomlinson said.

“If I go to market and buy an animal on a Monday, I basically can’t buy anything else until the week after.

“It’s a serious problem.”

12/07/10

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