Borders farmers compensated for hard winter

Hay bales sitting in waterlogged fields near Coldingham
Hay bales sitting in waterlogged fields near Coldingham

Close to half a million pounds has been paid out in compensation to Borders farmers hit hard by the foul weather at the start of the year.

Snow, harsh frosts and persistent heavy rain spelled a chaotic and miserable few months for those in the Berwickshire agricultural sector, less than two years after the harsh winter of 2010/11 hit them exceptionally hard.

Animals suffered and crops struggled to grow but there has been some relief for those who are still counting the costs.

It was revealed this week that 85 farms in the Scottish Borders have received compensation, totalling £417,204 from the Weather Aid Fund, part of a national scheme in which the Scottish Government has made £6.5 million available for compensation.

A total of 4,082 farmers across Scotland have received money from the Fallen Stock Fund with a further 540 successfully applying for other forms of weather aid.

NFU local branch chair for Mid and East Berwickshire, Neil White said at a time of great uncertainty for farmers, with Common Agricultural Policy a big thorn in their sides, it was good to see some Government support for the sector..

“The NFU did very well to get that kind of money and it will undoubtedly help to recoup some of the losses,” he commented.

“However, given the amount of farms in the area I find the figure of 85 surprisingly low and I feel that some people are missing out.

“Money has only been paid out to those guys who saw their stock perish whereas those who went out of their way to keep feeding their livestock aren’t getting anything.

“And on the arable side compensation is only for crops that had to be removed.

“My understanding is that a maximum of £6,000 was available. Obviously that’s not going to recoup all of the money farms lost but at the same time it’s not meant to.

“Most of the local guys I’ve spoken to about it were pleasantly surprised.”

There’s been talk that the UK is set for its worst winter in years but Neil said that as things stand Borders farmers weren’t panicking just yet.

“After a poor start to the year the weather got much better. It wasn’t a bumper harvest but there are lots of winter crops in the ground that are looking well. Proper seasonal weather is good although obviously no-one wants a repeat of a few years ago.”