By FW staff

MORE farmers received their IACS cheques earlier this season, but there is still room for improvement.

“MAFF has responded to our call for swifter payment,” said Richard Butler, cereals committee chairman of the NFU. A recent survey by the union shows up to 50% more growers received their cheques by early November compared with last year.

“We welcome that. But MAFF could do better. It is ridiculous that French growers get paid in October, and we have to take part in a lottery, being paid any time up to mid-December.”

Some regional offices remain especially slow, Wales in particular. “Farmers are under huge financial pressure. For the ministry to say it has a legal right to pay until mid-December is an opt-out.”

He described Agenda 2000 proposals to shift the payment period forward to January-March as an unacceptable move which would hammer farmers cash-flow.