19 January 2001

Cash delay blame

DELAYS in suckler cow premium advances have been blamed on old computer software. Many farmers had been expecting their cheques in November, but MAFF did not start processing claims until Dec 31.

A ministry spokesman said a computer system had to be updated because of changes stemming from the Agenda 2000 agreement. The switch from the old software to the new had gone smoothly but it had been necessary to retrain staff, he said.

NFU president Ben Gill has written to farm minister Nick Brown demanding a full explanation. MAFF has now promised that 80% of the full payment is being sent to producers in England. But it ruled out paying any interest to make up for the wait.