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1 October 1999

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FARMERS are being forced to pay their bills faster than any other industry, according to figures released by business analysts Dun & Bradstreet.

A recent check on almost 300,000 businesses in 14 main industrial sectors showed that the agricultural industry was the most prompt payer.

Almost half (47%) of 4884 agricultural companies paid their bills early or on time, compared with a national average of 31%. Only about 6% were more than a month late settling their bills.

"The results of this survey illustrate the difficult credit conditions which farmers are facing," says senior analyst Philip Mellor.

"The industry is in a depressed state and consequently farmers are not being given credit. Their clients are applying pressure either to get payment up front or chasing bad debts in a way that they might not do with businesses in a more healthy sector."

In contrast, over half (56%) of retail companies were up to a month late in settling bills, while almost seven out of 10 local and national government companies paid late. &#42

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