Farmers to be given cash aid

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The Scottish Government has announced that it is making available £6 million to assist farmers affected by the extreme weather this year.

The move was widely welcomed, with both the National Farmers Union of Scotland and politicians praising the aid.

NFUS president Nigel Miller said: “This significant package of support is a very positive result which, for many people, could provide the lifeline they require.

“Some of the worst storms of recent times might now have passed, but they have left in their wake losses for every farming sector, a legacy which will have its full impact this autumn when lambs are sold and crops are harvested.

“There are some areas of the country where the winter snowstorms devastated, particularly, sheep stocks and some early lambs, but the severe weather problems of 2012 and 2013 have impacted not just in these areas but across the whole of Scotland resulting in livestock and crop losses, as well as significantly increased feed requirements.

“This variability has been recognised in the package of government support and will mean that aid can be targeted at those in need wherever they are located.

“Many businesses will enter this winter with budget challenges due to significantly reduced income, compounded by increased input costs. This government assistance will help businesses pilot their way beyond the winter and into 2014, when the real road to recovery will start.”

And Jim Hume, an MSP for the South of Scotland, added: “Farmers were hit hard by the very severe weather at a time when their livestock were especially vulnerable, and I know in my own area that farmers across the Borders and into Dumfries and Galloway were badly affected.

“The news of the funding package is welcome, and I would urge Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to make this package available as soon as possible in a targeted way to ensure a fair distribution to those most in need.”

And Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson said: “I very much welcome this statement which will give some hope to farmers in Galloway and elsewhere that a measure of help is at hand to help them get through what is going to continue to be a desperately difficult year. As always, the devil will be in the detail, and I await with interest to see how this support package will be delivered.

“However, I took the opportunity to ask the Cabinet Secretary if he is liaising with his colleagues to ensure that the very real human welfare issue that is emerging also receives appropriate support. Farmers and shepherds are proud people, and always reluctant to seek help of a personal nature. Yet more and more stories are now emerging of individuals whose mental wellbeing is suffering badly as a result of the devastating losses of stock and ongoing livestock welfare problems that the weather has brought about.

“We cannot and should not hide from this issue, and I was pleased with the Cabinet Secretary’s response which suggested that he would consult with colleagues and charities about how best to provide support for those affected in this way.”