A comprehensive review of farm inspection is to be launched by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), as it aimed to scrap the red tape preventing farmers from focusing on issues such as animal welf

Announced by environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday (February 20), the review will look at opportunities for improving regulation and enforcement pre- and post-Brexit to remove bureaucratic burdens placed on farmers.

The review, to be led by former ceo of DEFRA’s Animal Health Agency Dame Glenys Stacey, will seek ways to reduce duplication and allow farmers to concentrate on upholding key environmental and animal welfare standards.

Reforms to the current inspection regime would see a reduction in the number of bodies visiting farms, which often result in farmers having to give out similar information each time.

Common Agriculture Policy rules

Each visit adds to the burden on farmers, claimed DEFRA, as the rigidity of the Common Agriculture Policy rules requires inspections of precise criteria, such as field margin dimensions and the specific placement of trees in fields.

Gove called the rules associated with current subsidy payments unwieldy and counter-productive, requiring farmers to spend long days ensuring conformity with bureaucratic processes, which secure scarcely any environmental benefits.

“The current farming inspection regime, despite several recent attempts at simplification, remains as unwieldy as ever,” ​said Gove. “Every year, farmers are confronted by a barrage of inspections from different agencies, often duplicating costs in both time and money.

“Dame Glenys Stacey will be conducting a thorough and comprehensive review of this regime, seeing how these inspections can be removed, reduced or improved to reduce the burden on farmers, while maintaining and enhancing our animal and plant health standards.”

Regulations after Brexit

The review would also help guide the UK’s future approach to regulations after Brexit, claimed Gove, subject to negotiations with the EU.

Stacey said a review of the farm inspection regime was much needed.

“With farming at the heart of the quality and safety of the food on our plate as well, this is an excellent time to be working with farmers and their representatives – and all those who inspect farms – so as to get to a sensible inspection regime post-Brexit,” ​she added.