DEFRA SHOULD pay farmers 90% of their single farm payment in December 2005 rather than in May 2006 as planned, according to the NFU‘s livestock board chairman Richard Haddock.

“This message goes out from a unanimous livestock board,” Mr Haddock said, adding that the message to DEFRA has the backing of NFU president Tim Bennett.

“We are seriously concerned about the prospect that farmers may have to wait 18 months for their payments.

“DEFRA should make sure that 90% of historic payments are made in December next year when the window for payments opens.

“There is no reason why they shouldn‘t, since they already have information about everyone‘s historic payments in their computer system, and the European regulations allow payments to be made at that time,” Mr Haddock said.

He said the livestock board was concerned that DEFRA was not prepared for the new payment system and that this might cause delays.

“DEFRA hasn‘t got the computer programs for the new payments in place yet, and we know there is a danger that computer problems may cause delays.

“That could create serious problems for farmers. That is why we are making our position clear now and urging DEFRA to use the information it already possesses to pay farmers in December next year,” Mr Haddock said.