THE SINGLE farm payment is only weeks away, but many smaller farmers are still not taking it seriously, said a surveyor with Cluttons.

Giles Mounsey-Heysham warned that smaller farmers, especially livestock and dairy farmers were “burying their heads in the sand”.

Citing examples from his own area of the north of England, he said the bigger farmers, concentrated in the south, were more “savvy” when it came to the single farm payment.

Mike Churcher, agricultural business manager with Lloyds TSB said he was worried at the number of farmers still taking a “wait and see approach”.

He urged them to consider the new subsidy payment schedule that will be introduced with the SFP, which could hit farmers accustomed to payments early in the new year.

They may now have to wait until June until the first subsidy cheques come through.

“Farmers must ensure they are aware of cash flow issues relating to the SFP,” he said.

“Some farmers are already thinking of cropping patterns in 2006, to massage cash flow.”

He reminded farmers that with large turnovers, they could take advantage of hefty overdraft facilities to help spread the new payment schedule.

Jim Cockburn, a farming manager for Royal Bank of Scotland based in East Lothian, said that he was advising Scottish clients to “hang on” for the full details on the SFP.