10 January 2002
Gill slams suckler cash ‘excuses’

By FWi staff

NFU president Ben Gill has hit out at Defras “list of excuses” for delays in suckler cow premium payments.

Mr Gill has written a letter of complaint to food and farming minister Lord Whitty which includes a call for interest on late payments to be paid.

The payments should have started arriving in November 2001.

Defra officials have blamed delays on computer software problems, foot-and-mouth and strike action by regional staff.

But Mr Gill said none of the excuses were valid and, if the delays had been the other way round, farmers would not have been allowed to get away with it.

Foot-and-mouth was a problem faced by all rural businesses, not just Defra, and officials had known about software problems since 1999, he claimed.

“Defra is well aware of the extremely difficult times farmers are facing at the moment, and these continuing delays are making a dire situation even worse.

“And the fact that your officials have made these statements has further angered farmers who are currently suffering severe financial hardship,” he said.