ARABLE FARMERS‘ area aid payments for 2004 – the last before next year‘s single farm payment – will be worth slightly more than predicted, according to provisional DEFRA and SEERAD figures.

For farmers in England, the arable base area overshoot is likely to be only 0.5% compared with the 1% predicted by farm business consultant Andersons. The overshoot in Scotland will be 1.7% against an estimated 3%.

This means support payments will be scaled back by less than was first thought.

After 3.5% modulation, English farmers will receive £236.34/ha (£95.64/acre) for cereal and protein crops and land under set-aside – about £1.20/ha (49p/acre) more than expected.

Scottish producers outside less favoured areas will get £224.83/ha (£90.99/acre), an improvement of  £3/ha (£1.23/acre).

Final figures will be released by the end of the month, but Richard King of Andersons said they were unlikely to vary significantly.

“The civil servants like to make sure the figures are pretty much right, even when they are just estimates,” he said.