The woman heading up Defra Secretary Michael Gove’s review into the farm inspection regime has concluded farm visits from Government bodies are not ‘too frequent’.
Mr Gove ordered the review in February this year, saying the regime remained too ‘unwieldy’ despite several recent attempts at simplification.
The previous Government had introduced a target to cut 20,000 farm inspections every year, but Dame Glenys Stacey, who was charged with leading the latest review, said this would be ‘very difficult to achieve’.
Though the number of inspections taking place each year has fallen by about 13,000, she suggested this was because local authorities were ‘not coming down the farm path as often as they used to’ as they had bigger priorities.
Her early conclusion was that Government agencies were not inspecting too much.
Speaking at a Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum event in London this week, Dame Glenys said: “The underlying issue, sorry, but it is not that we inspect too frequently. It is that inspections are received by farmers as a sporadic thing.
“You could have two people come down the farm track in a week. It is sporadic and it is also limited, so they tend to be one-off checks for something.
“This is not actually an inspection as a chief inspector recognises it. These are visits for a single purpose. That is the wrong use of the word when we talk about farm inspections.
“The visits do not look at the whole farm, the direction of travel of the farm, the risks and how well they are being managed, or the extent of endemic disease or another issue which is affecting the commercial viability of the farm or the soil quality management and so on.
“My argument is actually a more comprehensive assessment would be of benefit to all, especially if that assessment was supported or combined with advice.”
The review, which will publish its preliminary findings on Thursday July 12, also found more than half of the farm visits were about disease surveillance, with 45 per cent of the total number relating to TB alone.