An end to excessive paperwork which forces farmers out of the fields and ties them to their computers was another key call at the National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham.
Chairman of the West Midland board of the NFU, Adam Quinney, called for a reduction in “ridiculous” paperwork which is proving a burden on local farmers.
“There is a lot of extra bureaucracy that small farmers have to comply with,” he said. “Most farmers are probably spending two to three hours a day recording information.
“That has a cost in two ways – they are away from their farms and animals as well as the costs of having to manage all those databases.
“For example, to move cattle, I have to fill in a three-page form. Imagine if you drove to work and you had to provide documentation that you did not exceed the speed limit. You have to provide documentation that you didn’t do certain things – it’s proving ridiculous.
“Nobody is against recording movements of cattle and livestock. But quite frankly it’s putting people off farming. We are calling for a simplification in regulation and also an emphasis in Government that production is a priority. If we look at other governments, their first priority is the production of food – not to stop farmers producing food.”
Clive Davies, a pedigree livestock farmer near Kidderminster who farms 100 head of Herefordshire cattle and around two dozen Shropshire sheep, agreed it was difficult to see the point of some of the recently introduced measures which upped the cost to farmers and prevented them spending time out in the fields.
He cited the example of the electronic tagging of sheep.
“It’s of no benefit really,” he said. “Individual sheep tags cost about 20p a piece and some farmers run into the thousands of sheep.
“ We’re talking about a considerable expense which at the end of the day isn’t doing anything.”