The Farmers Union of Wales has written to the Rural Payments Agency asking it to postpone a planned drop in the compensation rates paid to farmers for cows slaughtered under the Older Cow Disposal Scheme.

The FUW claims there is insufficient slaughterhouse capacity in Wales to cope with the number of older animals coming forward and, since this is not the fault of the industry, has asked the RPA to continue paying the full rate until extra capacity has been installed or the backlog cleared.

Although a voluntary scheme, farmers who submit older cattle are entitled to €360 a head (£243) until the end of the year. It then falls to €324 a head (£219) until 31 December 2007 before falling again for the final year of the scheme to €292 a head (£197) for 2008.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said it had received a number of complaints from members.A spokesman for the RPA was unable to comment.