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Farmers invited to take the whole farm approach

Defra : 29 March, 2006  (Company News)
The Whole Farm Approach, Defra's new web-based system designed to save England's farmers time and money, goes live today. It is now open to the country's 120,000 farms.
Farmers who sign up for the system will be able to start simplifying the way they do business with Government, helping to cut red tape affecting the industry and saving it up to 28m a year.

The Whole Farm Approach is among the first practical steps taken by Defra to reduce the burden of bureaucracy on business. It was one of the measures identified in Partners for Success, our Farm Regulation and Charging Strategy.

Farmers who register for the system from today will get access to the Whole Farm Approach web portal and receive a free CD which will enable them to install on their computers the Appraisal, a self-assessment package which builds a detailed appraisal of their farm and its business.

The web portal will give participants access to a number of useful tools such as business benchmarking and links to other helpful sites.

Using the Appraisal, farmers will be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their business, check that the details they provide are up to date and accurately recorded, and get help, advice and information on farming practices, all from a single source.

The Whole Farm Approach means that data only needs to be entered once so it will reduce the time farmers spend filling out forms. By building a more complete profile of a farm's business, it will also help reduce the chances of being selected for inspections which are carried out on the basis of risk.

The Whole Farm Approach has been developed in partnership with the industry, Defra agencies and public bodies such as the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and Food Standards Agency.

It will continue to be developed to offer new functions that will let farmers transact business electronically with Defra and other bodies. By the summer it should enable farmers to apply for waste exemption licences and allow completion of their June agricultural survey online.

Farming Minister Lord Bach said:

'The Whole Farm Approach is an innovative system that puts the needs of farmers at the heart of the way we do business in partnership with them.

'We have trialled the system with groups of farmers and their response has been overwhelmingly positive.

'By using information better and sharing it more widely, the direct burdens on farmers will be reduced. At the same time it will make us more efficient, especially in targeting inspection and enforcement more accurately. This will help us deliver our commitment on better regulation of business.

'Perhaps the most impressive part of the Whole Farm Approach is its almost limitless potential, the system will deliver even more benefits as it develops. But the farmers who join now should find that it makes an immediate difference to their busy lives.'
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