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Union Welcomes Loan Scheme Announcement Following a Year of Trying Weather

NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement that a National Basic Payment Support Scheme (NBPSS) has been launched, providing vital financial support for Scottish farmers, following almost a year of extreme weather conditions.

Loan payments are expected to be made to eligible farmers from early October, easing cash flows.  A Similar scheme was created in 2017, which delivered payments of more than £317 million to over 13,500 farmers.

Under the new scheme, loans will be offered to eligible farmers for up to 90% of what they are due as part of their Basic Payment Scheme 2018 payments. This will be on an opt-in basis and offset against those payments.

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing made the announcement while visiting the Gryffewraes farm at Bridge of Weir in Renfrewshire, farmed by NFU Scotland’s Regional Chairman for Forth and Clyde Region Willie Harper.

In a normal year, Mr Harper makes 2000 bales of silage to feed to his cattle over winter but this year only 1000 have been made.  Planning ahead, he has, for the first time, sown a hybrid kale in to stubble to provide a winter forage for cows.  He has also bought fertiliser to spread on grassland in September – again a first - in a bid to extend the grazing season for his stock.

Mr Harper said: “Although my silage stocks are 50 percent compared to a normal year, I know from speaking to other farmers around the country that I am the lucky one and many have had to feed their silage to livestock this summer just to keep their animals going.

“I have put plans in place that will hopefully extend my grazing but that has come at a cost of close to five figures.  News that the loan scheme money will come through in October will help address that hole in my cash flow.”

Speaking from Keith Show in Aberdeenshire, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “The past 12 months have been very difficult for farmers across the whole of Scotland.  Record rainfall in parts, the ‘Beast from the East’ and the driest spell for 40 years has put incredible pressure on farmers and crofters in terms of keeping their businesses going.

“This summer’s drought has already seen farmers and crofters forced to start using the precious winter fodder now to keep cattle and sheep going.

“Scotland’s spring barley harvest is also getting underway.  While the prospects for quality are good, the drought will have put many fields under stress and is likely to have impacted on yields of both barley and straw.

“The upshot is a significant shortage of fodder as the year goes on with farmers and crofters all urged to plan ahead now, consider feed and bedding alternatives for their stock and, where possible collaborate with neighbours and suppliers to secure your requirements.  That is the theme to NFU Scotland’s #NFUSHowDoYouPlan campaign, started five weeks ago, and we know from going around the agricultural shows this summer that many are already doing everything in their own power to help themselves.

“That kind of planning places pressure on bank accounts.  Knowing that the basic scheme payment loan scheme will be paid in October is great news.

“It was one of the key asks to emerge from the Scottish stakeholders meeting on feed and fodder ten days ago and we are pleased the Government has heard our call to bring forward the Basic Payment Scheme loans payment.

“It will provide some much-needed reassurance as well as ease cash flows on farms and crofts, helping anyone who needs to talk to their bank about borrowings that may be needed to help them through this fodder crisis.

“Following the stakeholder forum, NFUS has suggested a number of other measures that could help the industry at this time.

“In a letter to the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing, sent at the end of last week, NFUS has requested that the Scottish Government request a derogation of the 3-crop rule from the European Commission; shorten the EFA fallow period so that it runs from 15 April to 15 July and relax their rules that require ‘Green Manure crops’ like clover, peas and oats to be ploughed in after 15 August.

“These are small measures that could make a relatively big difference in what has been a hugely challenging 12 months for Scottish farming.”  

Notes to Editors


Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 112/18


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