Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom addresses the opening day of the Oxford Farming Conference with a promise of cutting red tape, scrapping the EU’s three-crop rule and dumping other regulations that hinder British farming.
Helping producers grow British food and slashing EU regulations will be the government’s key priority post-Brexit, she pledged.
The Environment Secretary highlighted EU regulations that are weighing down farmers in mountains of paperwork, claiming that ‘for too long, a bureaucratic system which tries to meet the needs of 28 countries has held farmers back.’
Following the UK’s departure from the EU, Britain will be free to ditch rules requiring farmers and rural businesses to pay for and display billboards or posters (measuring up to 6ftx4ft) to publicise the EU contribution for grants to grow their businesses.
Another highly contentious issue has been the three-crop rule initially agreed by EU agriculture ministers in 2013 as a measure to minimise the environmental impact of mass farming. Over the years it has been heavily opposed by UK growers because it sets out how many different crops farms must plant each year. Without this rule, Leadsom promises 40,000 farmers will be free to grow the foods people want.
She also said there would be a change to rules requiring complicated definitions applied across Europe to identify features in farmers’ fields for subsidy payments – such as what makes a hedge a hedge or when a puddle becomes a pond. And, a reduction in paperwork when farmers suffer flooding and need to make support claims as well as fewer government inspections on farms.
“Too much of your time and money has been wasted on keeping up and complying with EU red tape. Over the past six years we’ve done everything we can to reduce this burden, but I’m quite sure everyone here can still think of at least one piece of EU regulation you won’t miss,” she told the conference.
“As we prepare to leave the EU, I will be looking at scrapping the rules that hold us back, and focusing instead on what works best for the UK.”
“By cutting the red tape that comes out of Brussels, we will free our farmers to grow more, sell more and export more great British food – whilst upholding our high standards for plant and animal health and welfare.”
The government has also guaranteed farmers will receive the same level of financial support until at least 2020 and in the next few months up to £120 million will be made available to help support rural growth.