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News : Defra Launches Single Helpline for Farming Advice
London, UK, Sept 25, 2015 -- The government has set up a single helpline for people seeking advice on farming services in England.
The Rural Services Helpline will open for business on Wednesday 30 September.
Farmers with questions for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) or the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) can call the helpline Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5pm.
Defra said launching the new helpline was the "first steps" in bringing the two agencies together, creating "one point of contact for farming advice".
Over the last parliament, Defra said it had cut 34,000 farm inspections a year and more than 80% of guidance, saving farm businesses £300m/year.
Currently, seven regulators carry out more than 125,000 farm inspections a year to England’s 250,000 farms.
But by next summer, Defra said streamlining the APHA and the RPA would cut a further 20,000 farm inspections a year.
Defra secretary Liz Truss said: "Whenever farmers have to talk to government – about their CAP payments, animal health inspections or environmental stewardship scheme – we want to make it as simple as possible.
"Through the Single Farm Inspection Taskforce we will make further cuts to the number of farm visits – saving businesses millions of pounds and countless hours."
Ms Truss is also continuing to press the European Commission for simplifications to CAP checks and inspections – such as by using satellite data to analyse different crop types in fields.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United Kingdom.
Published: Tuesday, September 29, 2015