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Written Statement - Working Smarter- Six Day Standstill Task and Finish Group update

Alun Davies, Minister for Natural Resources and Food

As part of the Working Smarter programme I have agreed in principle to changes to the 6-day standstill rule as recommended by the 6-day standstill Task and Finish Group.

The Working Smarter report, which was published in January 2012, considered whether the regulatory framework that applies to farmers in Wales was measured and appropriate.  Recommendations were made in the report in order to facilitate a simplified and improved way of working for both regulators and farmers in Wales.  

The report highlighted the standstill rule as particularly complex and difficult for the farming industry. It recommended that the issues around the 6-day standstill rule must be addressed and resolved by the Welsh Government and the farming industry working together. We have been working with stakeholders since early 2012 to develop proposals for a general exemption to standstill for farms using an approved quarantine unit (“QU”).

The Standstill Task & Finish Group was set up in March 2013 to assess alternative proposals for standstill and agree a way forward. Much has been achieved this year by the industry and government working together through this group and I would like to thank all members for their assistance.  Independent economic impact and veterinary risk assessments were commissioned on the Welsh Government and industry proposals for QUs.  The Group considered the findings of these assessments and produced a report outlining its recommendations for QUs. The aim of the proposal for QUs is to simplify the rules, while finding a balance between providing flexibility for farmers to trade and minimising the risk of spreading disease.

Officials will now work to assess the implementation costs for the changes. We will continue to work together with the industry to agree guidance documents for farmers using QUs and arrangements for their approval, inspection and enforcement. We will also consult more widely next year on the details of the proposals.