"Working Smarter” report recommends significant changes to reduce bureaucracy and regulation in agriculture
Working Smarter will build on the work already done on reducing red tape within the agriculture industry in Wales. The independent Working Smarter report, produced by Gareth Williams, focuses on seven key areas and makes 74 recommendations, with an emphasis on how those recommendations should be delivered, aimed at:
- Improving communication with the farming community
- Improving the Single Payment application process and customer experience
- Reducing the overall number of farm inspections while adequately addressing risk
- Safeguarding animal health and welfare while establishing flexibility of livestock movement
- Reducing and simplifying farm records, including those covering livestock identification and movements, and medicine purchase and usage
- Improving understanding of, and compliance with, environmental regulations
- Making it easier for farmers to diversify their farm businesses
The recommendations are grouped in to 20 “quick wins” which Mr Williams has suggested should be delivered by the 2012 Summer Recess; 35 “short term solutions”, which are to be delivered by the 2013 Summer Recess; and 19 “medium term solutions” to be delivered by the next Assembly Elections in 2015.
Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Alun Davies, welcomed the report and thanked Mr Williams for his insight on such an important issue for Government and for the agriculture industry. He said:
"I welcome the publication today of the “Working Smarter” report. Gareth is to be commended for tackling this issue head-on and for managing to propose a range of workable solutions to address the most burdensome regulations and processes.
"Gareth’s report goes further than previous similar reports. Working Smarter details 74 recommendations which I, along with my Cabinet colleagues, intend to take forward. The first 20 have a challenging delivery deadline of the summer recess but I am confident that through working in partnership with the industry we will make significant progress and begin to replace complexity with simplicity, confusion with clarity and regulatory enforcement with shared responsibility and action.
"Farming is unique in terms of its reliance on public money; largely in the form of CAP support. Regulations, controls and accountability is the inevitable price paid for receipt of public funds, but it should not automatically follow that the regulatory process must be complex to understand, present an obstacle to business development and cause undue stress on the recipient of that support.
"Gareth has identified many examples of good practice but he has also identified many shortcomings in the regulatory process. It is these issues that we are now going to address and I want to do this working in true partnership with the farming industry.
"I want to develop a shared and much improved understanding of essential regulations and target inspections and controls where they are most needed. Farmers who are acting responsibly and fully within the regulations will, where regulation permits, be rewarded with fewer checks and controls.
"I am fully committed to taking this process forward, to being thorough and ensuring that accountability is built into this programme. We will be debating Gareth's report in the National Assembly on 7 February and two days later on the 9 February I shall host a meeting of key industry stakeholders and partners to discuss our joint approach to moving matters forward. The outcomes we are seeking are very clear and need to happen quickly. I am therefore very pleased that Gareth Williams has agreed to my invitation that he should return in a year's time to review the progress made."
Mr Williams said:
"I am looking forward to reading the Welsh Governments action plan. This should outline amongst other actions how, in partnership with the industry, government proposes to develop a new way of working that will lead to less bureaucracy and paper work, improved customer service and better communications between the farmer, the industry and Welsh Government"