By FWi staff

PRODUCERS could be in the dark over beef extensification payments for months.

This is despite letters being sent to beef producers by Defra to explain how it plans to adjust stock numbers to account for foot-and-mouth movement restrictions.

The restrictions have resulted in stock levels on many farms exceeding extensification limits.

The last check date for 2001 stocking levels – sometime in November or December – is to be announced later this month.

Under the standard scheme, whereby producers declare stocking levels on six check dates, the coefficient for the fifth check date on 7 September, last year was set at 0.5.

This will cut the number of animals declared by half.

But Defra announced before Christmas that there will be no reduction for the sixth, and last, check date.

Farms can appeal to the Rural Payments Agency if they can prove above normal stock numbers for the last check date were due to foot-and-mouth.

But Devon farmer Richard Haddock is furious.

“All the people I normally sell store cattle to are in areas where government has been urging them to delay restocking.

“I have a large batch of store heifers which would normally have been sold last March or April.

“There is likely to be a delay on the farm they are going to. If that coincides with the as yet unknown sixth check date it could cost me half my extensification money.”