Arable farmers should see an improvement in their subsidy cheques for 2005 while livestock producers will be worse off, now that the exchange rate for converting single farm payments from euros to sterling has been fixed.

The rate taken was that prevailing last Friday (30 September), which means that all SFPs will be calculated at a rate of 68.2p/Euro

In the past, arable area payments were based on the average exchange rate for June, which last year came to just 66p/ – a worse rate than the one to be used on this year’s SFPs.

Conversely, livestock headage payments were based on the average exchange rate for December, which for 2004 came to around 70p/Euro – better than the rate just fixed.

Farmer organisations have expressed their satisfaction at the outcome.

“Across a year in which the euro has fluctuated in value between 66p and 70p, the final figure is about middle of the road,” said NFU Scotland vice president Bob Howat.

But NFU senior economist Carmen Suarez said it was still a concern that the EU had chosen to take one day’s exchange rate rather than averaging it out over a month.

“This makes the whole thing much more volatile,” she said. “It means the value of the SFP is vulnerable to one off events in the currency markets. “