Farm Inspections

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 10th September 2015.

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Photo of Peter Heaton-Jones Peter Heaton-Jones Conservative, North Devon 9:30 am, 10th September 2015

What plans she has to reduce the burden of farm inspections.

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I want to see farmers farming, not form-filling. That is why, by June 2016, we will have a single, co-ordinated farm inspection force and a single point of contact for farmers.

Photo of Peter Heaton-Jones Peter Heaton-Jones Conservative, North Devon

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that assurance. At the North Devon Show at Umberleigh in my constituency last month, I met a delegation of farmers. There is still concern about the burdensome nature of some of the inspection regime. Does she agree that a balance needs to be struck between the importance of those inspections and making sure that farmers are not distracted by the time they take up from running their businesses?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. We are working to make our inspections more efficient and to use technology better, such as satellite imagery and light detection and ranging data, so that we do not have to go traipsing around farms. We are looking at things we can do online. Over the previous Parliament, we cut guidance by 80% and we reduced farm inspections by 34,000 every year, but we want to do more in this Parliament.