9 July 1999

IBblames EUfor late 1998 flax payments

THE Intervention Board is blaming EU Commission officials for the nine-month delay in payments on two-thirds of the UKs 1998 flax area.

Last autumns bad weather meant part of the EU flax crop, including nearly 70% of that in the UK, was rejected as unsuitable for processing.

Special concessions were made to over-ride the rule that area aid payment would only be made on crops producing a minimum weight a hectare of processed straw.

The UK Intervention Board supplied the commission with a detailed dossier of meteorological data and the controls it had implemented in checking the 650 rejected crops.

That information went to the commission last November, according to an IB spokesman.

The board reminded the commission in January and again in February and was told it was waiting to process the information until all member states involved had supplied their data.

"We are constantly chasing the commission, and so is MAFF," he said.

But this week the IB was still awaiting the go-ahead to make payments on the rejected crops.

Among the many flax growers complaining about the delays is James Robinson from East Torrington, Lincs. In a letter to the IB, copied to NFU and FARMERS WEEKLY, he said it seemed the commission was not concerned about the problems of British farmers.

"We have borne all the costs of growing and harvesting last years crop but have not received any flax subsidy or indeed any indication of when we might be paid," Mr Robinson said. &#42