Reports of pragmatic inspections welcomed as cold spell persists

Sheep Feeding
Sheep Feeding

NFU Scotland has welcomed the reports from its members that the Scottish Government is taking a moderated approach to livestock inspections in light of the ongoing freezing weather.

The message that over 90 per cent of Single Farm Payments should be in Scottish farmers’ bank accounts will also come as a relief as the cost of extra feed, fuel and bedding start to bite.

NFUS had asked that in the extreme weather, farmers undergoing cross-compliance inspections should be exempt from having to gather and handle sheep and cattle as it is very difficult and potentially unsafe to do so in freezing conditions and deep snow.

Reports to NFUS head office are that inspections are focusing more on paperwork, including movement data and flock registers. In the meantime, NFUS remains in close contact with its members and the Scottish Government to relay experiences of fuel, feed and bedding distribution.

NFUS chief executive, James Withers said: “The weather has put real pressure on farming operations over the last five weeks. Therefore, the pragmatic approach the Scottish Government is taking on cross-compliance inspections is really helpful just now.

“Most livestock inspections require stock to be gathered and checked, however, in this weather that can often be both impractical and dangerous. Therefore inspectors are taking a sensible approach on a case by case basis, and where stock can’t be gathered, a paper-based inspection is being done in the meantime.

“We’ve been liaising closely with the Scottish Government regarding the general impact of the weather.

“The lack of fuel and heating oil deliveries has been causing perhaps the greatest concerns. But new fuel deliveries to the main depots ensured there has been stock available and some suppliers - such as those in the Borders - have been providing collection points so farmers can get out to collect fuel if the lorries are unable to get up their farm road.

“Like many businesses throughout the country, the costs for farms associated with the severe weather are high. The Scottish Government’s excellent record in delivering Single Farm Payments has continued and has been a timely boost and 92 per cent of producers will have received their support payment by the end of the week.

“The commitment from the Cabinet Secretary to work at full throttle to deliver LFA payments on time is also crucial.”