Most farmers stick with sterling for SFPs

An estimated 7% of British farmers have elected to receive their 2009 single farm payments in euros rather than sterling, according to a survey by the National Farm Research Unit (NFRU).

Over 5000 farmers were questioned and 70% of them said they were sticking with sterling, while the remaining 23% were “unsure”.

“The option to elect for payment in euros had to be exercised by the 15 May when the SFP claim was submitted,” said Jim Williams of the NFRU. “We have been asking our farmers about this over the last two months and it appears that the majority have chosen to go with the default currency which is sterling.”

Mr Williams pointed out that there were very few differences between enterprise types.

“However there were some interesting regional variations, with 19% of farmers in Scotland electing to be paid in euros, much higher than in any other region.” Just 4% of farmers in the east and in Yorkshire and Humberside had asked for euros.

Farm consultant David Bolton of David Bolton Partners said he was unsurprised at the results, pointing out that electing for payment in euros would mean venturing into complex areas that many farmers were not comfortable with.

“Farmers are experts in farming and not necessarily experts in finance or currency exchange,” he said. “Opting to be paid in euros and so being able to predict future currency fluctuations may be that step too far for most. This is particularly so at a time when the currency markets have been so volatile.”