28th March 2013
NSA is acutely aware and sensitive to the terrible weather conditions being experienced across the country. Such prolonged snow, deep drifts, subzero temperatures and freezing winds are causing much hardship where stock are outside and lambing is underway, and significant losses are being reported in some cases.
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: "After such a challenging summer and autumn of 2012 a late and (for all the wrong reasons) record-breaking spring it is exactly what isn’t needed right now. Of similar concern is the effect on grass growth with any greenery being a rare sight and crops going backwards rather than forwards. Feeding ewes quality diets to maintain milk production is essential, even though this brings a cost, and providing shelter from driving snow and wind wherever possible will inevitably help."
The conditions being experienced will bring hardship to many and NSA will be raising the issue of the use of EU hardship funds on the basis that they are in place and already justified to help the farming community through times of extreme hardship. However, hardship funds usually have to match-funded by the Member State requesting monies, which will not sit well with our cash-strapped Government.
However, Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead of the Scottish Government has taken already taken action, as the result of three teleconferences in recent days that NSA Scotland has participated in. Reacting to the particular hardship caused by drifting snow in Arran and in and around the Kintyre area and Campbeltown, the Cabinet Secretary has made tracked vehicles and a helicopter available for farmers who couldn’t find sheep. Other areas of Scotland have also been affected badly, with reports of farmers unable to find large numbers of seep in various areas. The timing really could not be worse with lambing having started or about to start on many farms.
NSA has this week made contact with the Addington Fund, which encourages farmers facing real financial difficulty to contact them. The Addington Fund considers applications to pay bills (e.g. feed bills) on a farmer’s behalf if they are related to factors outside the individual’s control, such as the recent weather.
NSA has received requests from people wanting to make donations at this difficult time, and recommend that any NSA members also wanting to make a contribution should visit the Addington Fund website.