Assistance required after year’s prolonged winter weather

Scotland’s leading agricultural body, NFU Scotland, has reiterated its call to the Scottish Government for assistance to mitigate the worst effects of 2013’s prolonged and extreme winter weather.

The Union is updating and reissuing its weather survey of 2012 to reinforce the body of evidence it accumulated at the back end of last year so it can work out how best to provide assistance to members who are struggling with the cumulative effects of a very wet 2012 and late spring 2013.

NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller said: “Last week we showed Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead the impacts left by the snow on a farm in Dumfries and Galloway; this was an extreme case, but the effects of the late spring are being felt by all farm types across Scotland.

“In the immediate term, we’re working with Scottish Government officials to try to put together a weather aid package for those on the hit by the extreme events in late March. While challenges surround both available funding and EU rules on extraordinary payments, we think there is scope to provide targeted support.

“However, the chronic and cumulative impacts of the weather on all sectors - arable and livestock - must not be ignored or forgotten. The true cost of the past twelve months for Scottish farming might not be known for another twelve months and more.

“So we are pressing SG to utilise its discretion within Voluntary Modulation, to provide an injection back into SFP in December. The need for this is even more stark with the prospect of financial discipline from the EU that could cut Pillar 1 support later this year.

“Our wet weather survey at the end of 2012 confirmed that even as farmers moved into winter many were already struggling with a late, poor, and in some cases unfinished harvest. This delayed spring planting and we now know of those whose crops planted in the autumn of 2012 are being ploughed up and re-seeded because they had failed to take properly.

“We would urge all members to complete our survey online or by calling 0131 472 4000 in order to help inform our work on the effects of 2012-2013 weather. It is crucial, however, that the Scottish Government acts fast to help those businesses for whom the crisis is immediate.”