A £6 million package was announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead this week which will provide badly needed assistance for those hardest hit by the recent snowstorms and other severe weather in 2012/13.
An industry group, chaired by Chief Agricultural Officer Drew Sloan, and involving Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, will develop the details of the recovery package.
This funding is in addition to the £500,000 already announced to help deal with the costs of fallen stock and the aid package will be notified to the EU as a state aid, and will comply with state aid rules.
Mr Lochhead said:
“Mother nature has battered parts of Scotland in recent months with the worst snow in living memory coming hard on the heels of a miserably wet summer. This is undoubtedly a major challenge for the industry. While farmers are used to operating in volatile conditions, these latest problems are giving them sleepless nights. The severe weather - which hit when ewes were lambing and at a time when some stock was already weakened by previous poor weather – has led to severe losses for some farmers.
“I’ve spoken to many farmers and know the problems this has caused – not just in terms of devastating livestock losses, but also crops not harvested or not planted and increased feed requirements at a time of rising prices. The Scottish Government has already acted swiftly to provide assistance and we have been listening carefully to the industry as we assessed the scale of the problem.
“That’s why we are making available a £6 million aid package to those farmers who have been hardest hit. It’s difficult to quantify the amount needed as many farmers are still counting the cost but we know that the number of fallen stock collections for sheep was up 50 per cent in April compared with last year and up 25 per cent for cattle.
“A team of industry experts, who will further develop the detail of the aid scheme, will meet for the first time next week. The group will ensure the aid is targeted at those who need it most, providing a badly-needed lifeline to help them get back on their feet.”
Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates said:
“We are pleased to be part of this group seeking to find the best way to help those hardest hit by the recent bad weather which has come on top of already challenging conditions. Our farming members in impacted areas across the country are feeling the effects along with everyone else. The sector will welcome this support as a clear signal that the government understands the pressures that farmers are under, as well as the need to build more resilience into the sector.
“Our membership is broad and stretches from owner-occupier farmers to estates and all will face different challenges in these difficult times. However the situation is varied across Scotland and some areas have of course escaped unscathed from the weather, hence it is important to properly target any support measure. Where tenant farmers have been hard hit by the weather we have been heartened but unsurprised to hear from our estate members who have been working with their tenants to assess the impacts of the weather and move forward to together as appropriate”.