The UK government is on a mission cut ‘red tape’. The Cabinet Office Red Tape Challenge asks the public which rules to cut and which to save. In agriculture, the Farming Regulation Task Force reported to Defra in May, calling for a new culture of regulation and recommending “200 ways to cut farmers’ red tape”.

While few would argue against simplifying rules and co-ordinating their enforcement, critics worry that deregulation will slow progress in tackling urgent environmental, social and economic problems. According to green business network the Aldersgate Group, which includes big food companies:

“In the drive to reduce regulatory burdens, there is a risk that the better regulation agenda loses sight of how to most effectively deliver the outcomes it is designed to achieve… Increasingly, businesses which take a long-term view of value are demanding more regulation, so that they can address emerging challenges and provide a competitive edge without being undercut in the short-term.”

Against this backdrop, the September 2011 meeting of the FEC Business Forum discussed the recommendations of the Farming Regulation Task Force. We are very grateful to our speakers, the Task Force Chair, Richard Macdonald CBE, and Dr Ian Livsey, Chief Executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. The meeting was chaired by Helen Browning OBE.

Read the meeting report.

For the FEC’s comments on the findings of the Farming Regulation Task Force, read our press release.