‘Regulation could harm productivity’

A NEW survey shows farmer confidence to be higher overall than in 2012 – but the majority fear that high input costs and regulation will impact on their businesses in 2014.

Seventy-four per cent who took part in the annual NFU Farmer Confidence Survey thought regulation and legislation would have a negative impact, followed by input prices and CAP reform at 68 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

Phil Bicknell, NFU chief economist, said farmers were more positive about the future after the horrendous conditions of 2012, but believed regulation could harm their productivity.

He said: “To me, that is a clear message that government must do all it can to ease regulatory pressure.

“A lot of frustration remains in this area with farmers reporting little perceptible difference of burden on the ground, despite initiatives like Red Tape Challenge and the Farming Regulation Task Force.

“For these initiatives to be credible, we need to start seeing positive outcomes and farmers benefiting from the changes.”

In Europe, policies like the neonicotinoid restrictions had been pushed through without agreement from all member states, and could have significant impact on arable farmers.

Input costs have consistently featured second on the list over recent years. Defra figures show that farming’s total cost base has gone up by 21 per cent since 2010.

“Fertilisers and feed are up by 22 per cent and 44 per cent respectively,” said Mr Bicknell.

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