NFU Scotland has welcomed a £250k Scottish Government package of support for farmers and crofters to help address the impact of recent extreme weather. 

It follows several weeks of discussions between the Union, its members, MSPs and the Scottish Government’s Weather Advisory Panel on the difficulties and challenges that the prolonged spell of poor weather has had on farmers and crofters.

This package includes a new £250,000 fund to help farmers offset the cost of disposing of fallen cattle and sheep.  Fallen stock collections have been significantly higher than in 2016 and 2017 and a scheme, based on that previously operated through the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) in 2013, is to be introduced to help compensate affected producers.

The package also includes additional funds for RSABI, a trusted provider of emotional, practical and financial support to farmers, their families and their staff whose wellbeing might be suffering as the long days and nights in harsh conditions take their toll.  Longer term solutions to the feed and fodder shortages are to be tackled through a summit involving commercial feed companies and co-operatives to explore what more can be done to increase resilience and collaboration.

In welcoming the package, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “I have seen and heard about the huge impact and cost that this unprecedented spell of bad weather has had on our farmers and crofters.  We have been feeding that information into Scottish Government and politicians and this package is welcome recognition from Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing of the exceptional circumstances.

“No sector has been immune and whether you grow crops or keep livestock, no one has escaped the impact of the weather.  That said, the nation’s farmers and crofters are, once again, proving themselves to be incredibly resilient and have been doing all they can to ensure the wellbeing of their stock and to get crops into the ground, but it is taking a toll on businesses and on the people.
“We welcome the additional funding for RSABI who are helping a lot of people at this time.  We would remind anyone who needs to talk about the situation they find themselves that RSABI is there to listen and help. For many simply talking through their problems can be the greatest relief.
“Looking longer term, a good summer won’t undo all the damage done by the wet weather we have seen since late summer 2017 and that the accumulated effect will still be felt next winter.  Therefore, we welcome the plan to identify longer term solutions to increase the industry’s resilience.
“We have also taken the opportunity to remind Scottish Government that cash flow is difficult for businesses.  A lot will have extra feed and fodder costs but for those farms who have had extra stock disposal costs, we are pleased that this has been recognised and that some of these extra costs will be offset. 
“What would make a real difference to cash flow would be Scottish Government building on the recent delivery of the LFASS loans by quickly delivering the outstanding CAP scheme funding due to businesses including the headage scheme payments for beef calves and ewe hoggs.
“For our arable growers, there is a clear and justifiable case for the exceptionally poor weather since summer 2017 to be recognised through a sensible and pragmatic derogation from meeting the challenging three-crop rule element of Greening requirements. We wrote to European Commissioner Hogan last week on the matter and we continue to pursue that with Brussels.
“With autumn plantings substantially down on the year and the cold, wet conditions this spring working against ground preparation and planting, the window of opportunity to plant and establish spring crops in 2018 is closing and meeting the three-crop rule for many farmers would be almost impossible.” 

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