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Winter Freeze – Farming Situation

UNION TO ESTABLISH LOCAL HELPLINES TO ASSIST THOSE IN DIFFICULTY

The vast majority of farmers are managing to cope with the current winter conditions and are helping others in their community to do the same, according to Scotland’s farming union.  However a number of localised problems have been emerging over the last 72 hours and NFU Scotland is in the process of establishing local helplines to address the issues.

The localised problems fall into four specific areas:

  • Collapsed farm buildings leaving animals without shelter
  • Lack of fuel (both domestic heating oil and farm transport diesel, which have 2-3 week delivery estimates in some areas)
  • Difficulty in getting access to livestock on hilly ground
  • Blocked rural roads

Through its helplines, NFUS plans to help tackle the above issues.  It will aim to put farmers who have lost buildings in touch with other farmers who have some livestock accommodation, which can be used in an emergency.  NFUS is also seeking to identify any other providers of temporary accommodation, such as marts or industrial buildings.

Farmers are also being encouraged to continue sharing fuel amongst themselves, but any localised shortage will be identified and information fed into Scottish Government and local authorities.  The Union is also trying to identify farms that need special ‘caterpillar track’ vehicles, the likes of those used by the Forestry Commission for example, to access stranded animals on hill ground.

NFUS met again with Scottish Government this afternoon.  Whilst many of the issues are being addressed by the industry itself, the Scottish Government has offered its assistance in relation to any specifically identified fuel or access problems.

NFUS Chief Executive James Withers said:

“Farmers are being extremely resilient, as they always are in times likes these.  Most are faring comparatively well under the most severe and prolonged winter freeze many have faced in nearly 50 years.  They are also finding time to help others in the community.

“However, we are aware of localised problems.  Scores of buildings, both old and modern, have been collapsing in the North East, Highland, Borders and even Lanarkshire.  We plan to establish local helplines by the start of the week and one of their roles will be to try and marry up those needing emergency livestock shelter and those who can provide it.  We will need farmers in both situations to come forward.  More/….

“Fuel availability is likely to emerge as a growing issue as next week goes on.  Problems gaining access to farms and a backlog of orders means delivery times for fuel are around two weeks in the Borders and three weeks in the North East.  Again, we’re encouraging farmers to keep working together to share resources.  If we can identify areas of specific problems we will see if we can get fuel moved into central locations for collection.  This is one of a number issues discussed today with Scottish Government officials.

“Many farmers are struggling to move around their farms, which is causing some localised concerns in terms of accessing animals who are stranded in snow and desperately short of feed. We have heard of many farmers seeking to buy or hire vehicles with caterpillar tracks, however delivery times are long.  Other industries, such as forestry, use these types of vehicles and we’re looking at arranging local access to these vehicles where problems become acute.

“The hope remains for the winter freeze to release its grip on the country.  Whilst the lack of wind has been a major factor in snow accumulation and subsequent collapse of buildings, many sheep have been spared because drifting has so far not been an issue.

“We remain in close contact with Government and hopefully these NFUS helplines from the start of next week will provide help for those individuals in particular difficulty.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

Should you require anything further, please contact either Bob Carruth on 07788 927 675, or James Withers on 07831 660 412.

Date Published:

News Article No.: 04/10


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