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Farm Regulation

Volume 587: debated on Thursday 30 October 2014

Food and farming are vital to the success of our economy. They generate £100 billion and employ one in eight people. We want to enable farmers to spend their time producing high quality British produce, which is why, by the end of this Parliament, we will have reduced the volume of DEFRA guidance by 80%.

I know that the Government have done more than the previous Labour Administration on tackling regulations on farmers, but there are still many outstanding issues to be addressed. Today, when I spoke to Mr Stuart Jones from Asterley in my constituency, he highlighted additional complications. Will the Secretary of State redouble her efforts to tackle the number of regulations faced by our farmers?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. We are making our inspection regime much more risk based, so that farmers who do the right thing and who are part of schemes such as Red Tractor or Pig and Poultry get fewer inspections, whereas those who mistreat animals or harm the environment get more of the Government’s attention.

The common agricultural policy payment scheme is being used to trial the Government’s new identity assurance scheme, Verify, but actual authentication is carried out by the private sector company, Experian. Farmers without a credit history are not being authenticated and are not getting their payments. Is getting into debt now a new regulation to be followed before farmers can be paid?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right, and we are introducing a new scheme. It is important that we do this in an efficient way. We are using and working on a cross-government process to assure identity.