The NFU is urging farmers to complete this year’s DEFRA census forms even though many producers are saying they are tempted to bin them in protest at the single farm payment fiasco.

Junior DEFRA minister Lord Rooker has written to about a third of farmers asking them to take part in the annual June survey.

The letter points out that the survey provides vital up-to-date information about the state of the farming industry and is used widely by government, industry bodies and the EU.

Lord Rooker apologises for the delay in SFP payments and asks for farmers’ co-operation in completing the return. “I need your help and it is with some humility I write to seek it.”

The NFU has warned that under the Agricultural Statistics Act 1979, farmers are obliged to respond to the survey and could be fined £1000 for not doing so.

“Frustrating though it is to receive yet another raft of paperwork to complete, the NFU would encourage all members to take time to do the survey and return it as requested.”