Pink tape burden will increase for farmers, survey reveals

Paperwork linked to farm assurance schemes, regulatory our bodies and provide contracts is protecting some farmers within the workplace for greater than 15 hours per week, with a brand new survey exhibiting that the time and value burdens of administration are rising.

That survey, by farm administration software program supplier Sum-IT, reveals that the variety of hours farmers decide to administration has elevated prior to now three years, though the findings don’t seem to determine Brexit as a cause.

See additionally: The right way to save time, stress and money in farm workplace routines

Nonetheless, larger compliance calls for in several sectors – for instance, the in depth crop manufacturing record-keeping now required from arable growers – is pushing up the workload.

Dairy farmers appear to be the toughest hit, with 86% of 242 British farmers surveyed reporting a rise in farm administration, due partially to the expectations of milk patrons.

The phasing out of the Primary Cost Scheme in England, with the requirement for extra paperwork to qualify for varied stewardship schemes, is one other issue.


Probably the most time-consuming duties appear to be related to assurance scheme compliance – 63% of dairy farmers mentioned this accounted for the best proportion of their workplace work – and with regulatory compliance, akin to the necessities of HMRC and the British Cattle Motion Service.

Invoicing, creditor and debtor administration, monetary planning and payroll additionally take time to manage.

What’s telling is that almost all of farmers don’t share the admin workload with others: solely 16% mentioned they used a farm secretary. For small companies in different sectors this determine sits at 46%.

Lynn Briggs, council chairwoman of the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Directors (IAgSA), mentioned considerations about confidentiality may be a cause why some farmers resist bringing in somebody outdoors the household to assist.

“There will be loads of secrecy in a farming companies as a result of it’s predominately a household enterprise and there’s a mistrust of outsiders,” she added.

For that cause, many agricultural secretaries don’t work of their native space the place they’re extra prone to know the farmer they’re employed by.

Recent blood

Though the survey authors recommend {that a} scarcity of agricultural secretaries may very well be an element, Ms Briggs mentioned that whereas this case may as soon as have existed, it had since been addressed.

IAgSA membership numbers are comparatively steady, however the common age of secretaries is rising.

Those that might need studied a secretarial course when most agricultural faculties ran these at the moment are of their fifties and, as these programs now not exist, it has been a problem to get contemporary blood into the trade.

For the reason that pandemic, the IAgSA has up to date its coaching programme, which has been in existence for greater than 10 years, to a streamlined on-line format with pre-work assessments previous to becoming a member of a digital classroom.

“This has proved to be extraordinarily profitable, attracting people who’re on the lookout for a profession change from different professions, or who wish to improve their present ability set,” mentioned Ms Briggs.


Whereas some farmers may be immune to using a farm secretary, the bulk are embracing digitisation.

A lot of the farmers surveyed mentioned 90% of their admin is now in digital format, maybe due partially to the launch of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital initiative in April 2022; solely 7% of respondents had lower than half of their admin digitised.

Lots of the farmers surveyed, from small to giant operators, confessed to an absence of certainty about their authorized obligations towards a backdrop of latest laws making use of to exports to the EU, environmental stewardship, and the employment of migrant employees.

Solely 36% mentioned they had been assured they understood their authorized necessities, 16% mentioned they didn’t perceive as a lot as they need to, and 1% admitted to having no understanding in any respect. n