The UK comes 11th out of 100 countries in a ranking of ‘farmer-friendly’ regulation, according to a World Bank ‘Enabling the Business of Agriculture’ report.
France tops the list because of its robust regulations on supplying seed, registering fertiliser, securing water, sustaining livestock and protecting plant health.
The only non-EU country in the top 10 is New Zealand.
The UK just pips the USA to 11th place, while exporting from secondand third-placed Croatia and Czech Republic is easier than elsewhere.
Researchers ranked countries out of 100 in nine key areas. The UK scored 100 for registering agriculture and for the quality of its feed and animal and plant health products.
There was a score of just 70 for the time and cost of registering new seeds and the quality of seed regulation. Access to finance also had a 70 per cent rating.
The trading food score for the UK was 90, which might be important if and when the country leaves the EU. Brazil is often cited as having much weaker regulations, allowing it to sell products other countries cannot.
However, its overall score was 75.25, with a low seed supply score. Its sustaining livestock score was 80.
Interestingly, the USA had a very low trading score of 66, because of the time and cost of obtaining documentation.
The most difficult places to farm are in countries where there is the greatest need for more food, especially Africa. Liberia is in 100th place, with an overall score of just 16.42.
But there is some good news; four of the most improved countries between 2016 and 2018 were in sub-Saharan Africa.
The best improver is Liberia’s neighbour Sierra Leone, where the Government has made it easier for farmers to access water, buy seed and care for livestock.
Martien van Nieuwkoop, head of agriculture at the World Bank, said: “Reasons for slow progress include: a lack of high-quality inputs, such as seeds, fertiliser and mechanised technology; limited training on better farm practices; and slow, unreliable access to markets.
“The report shows farmers’ seeds need not be cast on stony ground, and governments have a big role to play in helping farms and farmers grow and flourish.”