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NFUS Welcomes Pragmatic Inspections Approach as Cold Persists

NFU Scotland has welcomed the reports from its members that the Scottish Government is taking a moderated approach to livestock inspections in light of the ongoing freezing weather. This morning’s message that just over 90 per cent of Single Farm Payments should be in Scottish farmers’ bank accounts will also come as a relief as the cost of extra feed, fuel and bedding start to bite.

Earlier this week, NFUS had asked that in the extreme weather, farmers undergoing cross-compliance inspections should be exempt from having to gather and handle sheep and cattle as it is very difficult and potentially unsafe to do so in freezing conditions and deep snow.

Reports to NFUS Head Office are that inspections are focusing more on paperwork, including movement data and flock registers. In the meantime, NFUS remains in close contact with its members and the Scottish Government to relay experiences of fuel, feed and bedding distribution.

Extra deliveries of fuel to Aberdeen and Inverness have been very welcome, as has the extension in drivers’ hours allowing them to deliver that fuel. NFUS urges any farmer struggling to get hold of fuel from their usual supplier to request that their supplier consider arranging a collection point or to contact their local machinery ring to see if they can provide assistance.

NFUS Chief Executive, James Withers said:

"The weather has put real pressure on farming operations over the last four weeks.  Therefore, the pragmatic approach the Scottish Government is taking on cross-compliance inspections is really helpful just now. Most livestock inspections require stock to be gathered and checked, however in this weather that can often be both impractical and dangerous. Therefore inspectors are taking a sensible approach on a case by case basis, and where stock can't be gathered, a paper-based inspection is being done in the meantime.

"We've been liaising closely with the Scottish Government regarding the general impact of the weather. The lack of fuel and heating oil deliveries has been causing perhaps the greatest concerns. But new fuel deliveries to the main depots are ensuring there is stock available and some suppliers - such as those in the Borders - are providing collection points so farmers can get out to collect fuel if the lorries are unable to get up their farm road. It seems that distribution for farms remains a problem in the North East. If you are struggling to get hold of fuel, please consider asking your supplier to arrange a collection point, or try getting in touch with your local machinery ring, who might be able to help. We have had confirmation this afternoon from the Scottish Government of an extension of drivers’ hours for fuel and oil until 10 January 2011.

"Like many businesses throughout the country, the costs for farms associated with the severe weather are high. The Scottish Government’s excellent record in delivering Single Farm Payments has continued and has been a timely boost and 92 per cent of producers will have received their support payment by the end of the week. The commitment today from the Cabinet Secretary to work at full throttle to deliver LFA payments on time is also crucial."

Ends

Contact Sarah Anderson/Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4108/4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 178/10


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