FARMERS ARE sitting tight until single farm payments are secured before dispersing livestock and machinery, say auctioneers.

Robert Addison of Carlisle-based Harrison & Hetherington believes the livestock sector is in a state of flux.

“Many producers are reluctant to test the water until further SFP guidelines on cross-compliance and transfer of entitlements are known.”

But Derek Biss of Taunton-based Greenslade Taylor Hunt reckoned some dairy sales would press ahead this spring.

“We can expect to see a flush of fresh-calved dairy cattle coming on to the market.

“Clearly, that will be influenced by current thinking on milk production in this quota year.”

But other factors were forcing decisions, said Welsh borders auctioneer Gwilym Richards of Williams Parry Richards.

“There is certainly a trend for sales to be brought forward where producers face a shortage of labour. We also expect to see some herds cleared of TB to press ahead with sale plans.”

Tenant farmers are particularly anxious to ensure that the SFP and potential income from transfer of entitlements had been secured before making dispersal decisions.

And the machinery sector is also subdued, after a busy autumn sales period.

Fixtures are unlikely to be set until next autumn, said Bill King of Cambridge-based Cheffins. “The arable sector is likely to see next harvest out before any radical changes are made.”