The NFU is urging farmers to complete this year’s DEFRA census forms even though many producers are saying they are tempted to bin them in protest at the single farm payment fiasco.

Junior DEFRA minister Lord Rooker has written to about a third of farmers asking them to take part in the annual June survey.

The letter points out that the survey provides vital up-to-date information about the state of the farming industry and is used widely by government, industry bodies and the EU.

Lord Rooker apologises for the delay in SFP payments and asks for farmers’ co-operation in completing the return.

“I need your help and it is with some humility I write to seek it.”

The NFU has warned that under the Agricultural Statistics Act 1979, farmers are obliged to respond to the survey and could be fined 1000 for not doing so.

The following is one farmer’s response to the letter from Lord Rooker:

Dear Lord Rooker

We acknowledge receipt of your letter, dated 29 May, 2006.

This acknowledgment does not signify that the documents received are complete, true or accurate.

The documents will be processed through our various departments, but, although we will work towards a two-week turnaround, we cannot guarantee that this target date will be met.

In addition, our computers may need to be shut down for essential maintenance and upgrading.

Furthermore, although we will attempt a full 100% response, it may be only possible to provide 80%, assuming that there are no queries with the documentation.

If you have any queries, please fax the number given below – however, a direct contact within our organisation may not be possible, as our system has not been designed to interface with surveys in this way.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Buttle,

Thelveton Farms, Norfolk