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Scottish Farmers Urged To Take Up Weather Aid

23 May 2013

SCOTLAND, UK - Struggling Scottish farmers are being urged to take up the Scottish Government’s offer of assistance when the Weather Aid scheme opens for applications in early June.

Details of the £6 million scheme offering financial help to farmers hit by the extreme winter weather were announced by the Scottish Government today (Wednesday 22 May).

The application form and detailed guidance will be available on the Scottish Government website on Monday 3 June and farmers will be asked to submit their application before the closing deadline on Friday July 5.

NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller, was a member of the group of industry stakeholders involved in assisting the Scottish Government in designing the scheme. The Union’s recent weather survey, completed by more than 400 Scottish farmers, helped quantify the huge impact that the weather of 2012 and the spring of 2013 has had on many livestock and arable farmers in the country.

Commenting on the scheme, Mr Miller said: “I commend the Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead for recognising the huge impact that the extreme and exceptional weather has placed on our industry and securing a financial package to help struggling farmers at a time when all budgets are extremely constrained.

“We know from our survey that more than 80 percent of Scottish farmers are already expecting their output in 2013 to be down because of the weather. The eligibility criteria are designed to help those who have lost critical numbers of stock or will rear significantly fewer animals this season. It will also assist those who have had strip out and replant large areas of failed crops.

“For many, the full impact of the weather in 2012 and the recent winter may not be fully felt until autumn of this year and funds through this scheme will offer many businesses a financial lifeline that we will encourage them to take up. It will give them an opportunity to pause and plan for the way ahead.

“Full recovery for Scottish agriculture may not be achievable until 2014 and given that cashflow and business planning will continue to be a challenge, support from our banking system for the sector will be important in the recovery process.

“Should the scheme be over-subscribed, then we believe it is appropriate that there is targeting towards those businesses most extremely affected by the snowstorms of late March as well as those farms not currently supported through schemes such as Single Farm Payment and Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme.

“All farming businesses in Scotland are carrying a huge cost burden at the moment. While not all will qualify for assistance under the scheme, the award of further funding to the National Fallen Stock scheme will soften the blow for many Scottish livestock producers faced with higher levels of animals needing to be disposed of this spring.

“To help the majority of Scottish farm businesses at this difficult time, NFUS asked the Scottish Government to consider giving those receiving support payments a holiday from modulation deductions. While we haven’t achieved that, we will pursue other options to ensure our support systems are fit for purpose. One option may be re-basing our LFASS scheme to ensure funds are directed to those actively farming in our Less Favoured Areas and that those farming in these areas but not currently eligible are swept up by a new base year. Our LFA committee will consider that option at its forthcoming meeting.”

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