Severe weather update

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Scottish Government co-ordinates response to support farmers hit by latest severe weather.

Strenuous efforts are continuing to help farmers in parts of Scotland hit by severe snow to trace and care for their livestock.

The Scottish Government has co-ordinated a multi-agency response to ensure that farmers in Arran and Kintyre, where the effects of the snow have been hardest felt, can access the help and support they need.

Action taken to date includes:

  • Convening an agricultural task force – made up of a wide range of industry bodies – to co-ordinate rescue and welfare efforts
  • Sourcing tracked vehicles, suitable for use on snow, and arranging for them to be transported to Arran and Kintyre
  • Arranging with power company SSE to make use of their helicopters to organise feed drops to livestock if required
  • Making arrangements with the National Fallen Stock Company to ensure dead animals can be collected, with bulk discounts where appropriate
  • Securing a temporary relaxation on the enforcement of EU drivers’ working hours to ensure feed deliveries and milk collections can continue
  • Working with the local tactical co-ordinating groups to prioritise agricultural issues, such as generator power for lambing sheds
  • A Government pledge to consider future requests for aid in relation to damaged buildings, fallen stock costs and other related issues in badly affected areas

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“As parts of Scotland battle the worst snow seen at this time of year in living memory, our livestock farmers have been particularly badly hit.

“With sheep stranded on hills – either buried or in desperate need of food – and lambing sheds plunged into darkness, these have been exceptionally difficult times for farmers.

“That’s why I convened a special agricultural taskforce to drive forward the action needed to tackle these issues quickly. The immediate priority is to minimise both livestock losses and animal suffering but we recognise that in coming days we need to support the industry as it begins to work out the cost of this extreme weather.

“We have worked quickly to source appropriate help and specialist equipment and match it with the need on the ground.

“This work will continue as we monitor the ongoing effects of the weather, particularly as the thaw begins.

“This has been a brutal start to spring for those affected but I would like to assure them that we stand ready to offer assistance where possible.”

Farmers in Arran should contact the Ayr area office on 01292 291300 to seek help and support, including to arrange a helicopter drop. Farmers in Kintyre should call the Oban office on 0300 244 9340 for help or to arrange a helicopter drop.

Among those represented on the agricultural taskforce are NFU Scotland, the National Sheep Association, SSPCA, Scottish Land & Estates, Strathclyde Police and Scotland’s Chief Vet.

Farmers can also seek support from the RSABI/Gatepost service on 0300 111 4166.