Wet weather is hitting Scottish farmers hard

Tractor ploughing.
Tractor ploughing.

The prolonged spell of wet weather from June through September is continuing to hit farmers hard in the south west.

At the NFU Scotland Board of Directors meeting, held in head office at Edinburgh last week, members representing every region of Scotland outlined a growing list of problems being created by the persistent rainfall.

These include:

○Substantial amounts of cereal and potato harvest still to be completed and ground conditions are making ploughing and planting of winter crops difficult.

○Significant volumes of straw still to be baled, leaving livestock farmers short of winter bedding.

○Many areas report silage-making still to be carried out and stocks are short.

○With cattle already in winter housing, slurry stores are filling with ground conditions preventing spreading from taking place.

NFU Scotland’s President Andrew McCornick has visited all regions in recent weeks and will revisit the worst-affected areas in early October.

The announcement from Scottish Government that the application deadline to the Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme is to be extended to November 30 follows the Union writing to Scottish Government in early September highlighting the difficulties hill farmers were having in carrying out routine work.

NFUS has also raised with Scottish Government the problems many farmers are experiencing in complying with the Greening element of their support claims, from planting green cover ahead of the deadline to sowing crops to allow compliance with the ‘three-crop rule’.

The Union has also formally requested that, for those livestock farmers in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones whose closed period on spreading slurry is due to start on October 15 that this is delayed to October 30.

Andrew McCornick said: “Farmers and crofters are well used to dealing with the weather but this year, more than most, the elements are truly testing their resilience. Yesterday’s board meeting saw farmers from Shetland to Stranraer confirm that all parts of Scotland are being challenged by the ongoing wet weather.

“Everything is proceeding on a stop/start basis, as they dodge between the rain to make the most of any dry spell, and that is only adding to the frustration. The reality is that the weather will add cost for all. Cereal growers face a costly drying bill so that their crops can be safely stored without spoiling.

“Livestock keepers, with some herds already housed, will need more winter feed and bedding while facing difficulties in spreading slurry.

“We hope that, for those in NVZ areas who see the closed period for spreading looming, that we can secure an extension.

“Any members concerned about meeting the green cover requirement are urged to contact their regional manager to discuss the matter.”