THE WELSH Assembly has written to the 60% of Welsh farmers who have failed to return data confirmation forms on which their single farm payment entitlements will be based.

One week before the Sept 17 deadline 12,375 forms, which were delivered in bright yellow envelopes to make them conspicuous, have not been received.

This has prompted concerned civil servants to warn that they will assume that the data on any unreturned forms is correct.

This could lead to SFP errors, especially in the case of farmers whose historic payments in the reference years were lower because they had reduced stock to meet agri-environment scheme prescriptions.

These can use their form to request that their historical entitlement be calculated on a different basis.

“If we have not received your form by September 17 we will assume that you are content with the details pre-printed on it,” said rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones.

“And any entitlement to SFP will be based on that date,” he added.

Farmers who do not point out errors that result in them getting a bigger SFP than they are entitled to, could also end up getting a bill in the future.

“If we discover that the data is incorrect we may have to take action to recover any inappropriate payments made.

“It is vital that farmers return their forms on time so that we can deal with their enquiries.”

Welsh farming unions, who fought for SFPs to be based on historical data, are also urging members to check their forms thoroughly and return them before the deadline.

They fear that there will be a last minute rush to get information from the assembly‘s divisional offices.

“Both the cereal and forage harvests are late this year, and it is a very busy time for marketing livestock,” said Alan Morris of the Farmers Union of Wales.

“But we are urging members to help themselves by getting forms in on time.

“It is essential that the Welsh Assembly government is given every chance of getting SFPs to farmers on time.

“Any FUW members who need help checking their data can go to one of our offices, or to their local assembly divisional office.”