Heavy snow continues to disrupt farming in the Borders with reports that farm buildings around the region have now come down under the weight of snow.
As farmers work hard to provide feed, water and shelter to their stock, the Union urges them to make sure that safety for themselves, family and staff must remain a priority.
To help keep farms running, discussions between NFU Scotland and Scottish Government have already helped secure a temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours and working-time rules for hauliers involved directly in the distribution of animal feed and fuel oil. The Union would like to see a general relaxation introduced that would also assist those involved in livestock haulage – a vital concession as we run into the important Christmas period.
While fuel supplies are, by-in-large available, distribution of red diesel and heating oil to farms is a growing concern and NFUS is urging members to contact fuel suppliers to investigate if central distribution points at which fuel can be collected are feasible.
Such fuel collection stations are already operating in parts of the Borders.
NFU Scotland’s Chief Executive James Withers said: “With little respite from the weather likely until the end of the week, our focus is on helping farming families deal with the weather by getting vital feed and fuel through to them. At the same time, we are working hard with Scottish Government on how we can keep Scotland’s food and farming industries running.
“The news that many buildings are collapsing under the volume of snow is a huge concern and while we urge farmers to be vigilant, safety must be the priority. Clearing snow from roofs must only be considered if it can be done in a safe and responsible manner. If not, then farmers must not place themselves or their staff in danger.
“With a significant number of sheds now damaged, many will be seeking temporary accommodation for stock.
“Local machinery rings have been helpful in putting farmers needing space for cattle in touch with those with empty livestock sheds available. For those needing to erect temporary shelter, we are encouraging planning inspectors at local authorities to be pragmatic when it comes to putting up emergency sheds.
“Getting animal feed and fuel delivered has been given a boost by the extension to drivers’ hours agreed at the end of last week. o get our livestock moving to markets and abattoirs in the run up to the crucial Christmas period, we need livestock haulage to be included in the derogation and are speaking to the Scottish Government about this.
“On many farms, fuel for heating and machinery is running out. We would urge anyone in this position to contact your fuel supplier and enquire if collection from a local distribution point is possible. Such a scheme is already operating in parts of the Borders and could provide vital relief.
“For those toiling in the conditions, I urge them to remember that they are not alone. Neighbours, friends and family are often more than willing to help and the Union itself has a network of members, secretaries and staff happy to assist where possible.”
The contact number for NFU Scotland’s Regional manager in the Borders is Lisa Roberts on 07789796582 are as follows:
Machinery Rings have been assisting farmers with enquires on fuel and livestock accomodation. The contact numbers for the Borders is 01896 758091.