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Witham: Liberate farmers, says red tape guru Richard Macdonald

PUBLISHED: 11:00 29 March 2014

Richard Macdonald CBE Chair of the Farming Regulation Task Force

Richard Macdonald CBE Chair of the Farming Regulation Task Force

©Tim Scrivener

Government needs to reward and liberate farmers, the chairman of the Government Better Regulation Task Force on Food and Farming says.

“There is one thing that doesn’t change amidst it all and that is bureaucracy,” Richard Macdonald told about 80 farmers at Braxted Park at Witham for a Savills seminar. “We are four out of 10 on our way to getting better and more efficient regulation, but getting closer to five.”

“The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) must continue to develop the farming knowledge of their staff and have trust in farmers in order to move forward.”

Mr Macdonald was director general of the National Farmers Union for 13 years until 2009, dealing with BSE, Foot & Mouth and CAP.

He will be handing over the reins as chairman of the government task force, but he continues as non-executive director of Moy Park, one of the largest producers of organic, free range and corn fed poultry in Europe, and dairy products firm Dairy Crest.

Mr Macdonald said government should reward, trust and liberate farmers to do their job and do it well.

A survey of delegates found 89% of those who responded believed that there is currently too much Government intervention in farming, with 24% feeling that politics is the greatest issue facing their farm in the immediate term, over and above energy (7%), climate change (10%), tax (9%) and succession planning (16%).

Event organiser David Lancaster of Savills’ Chelmsford office said: “We were delighted that Richard was able to come and speak to us and to share his views and opinions, and it has been very interesting collating the views of the Essex farming community.

“Our annual seminars are designed to bring local farmers into direct contact with some of the most experienced and influential people in agriculture and give them a chance to discuss and debate some of the key issues that face them.”

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