27 November 1998

Less top-up cash?

WIDESPREAD belief that 1999 arable area aid and livestock headage payments will not be lower than this year may be mistaken.

Farmers who have increased their claims by taking on more land or more livestock could be caught out, says Francis Mordaunt, of farm business consultants Andersons.

"The compensation element of the 1999 payment will be based on past production – that is, 1998 claims. Therefore, if MAFFs interpretation is correct, any additional livestock claim will be paid according to the exchange rate on Jan 1, and arable ones will be based on the July 1 rate."

If todays exchange rate of 1ecu:70p applies, extra livestock payments will be about 10% less than the 77.5p rate expected. Payments on additional arable area would fall by about 7%. &#42