Effects of soaking summer to be studied

NFU Scotland is urging its members to take five minutes to help build a detailed picture of the effects of summer 2013’s weather on the nation’s farms. The information will be used to consider ways of helping farm businesses cope with increasingly unpredictable and volatile weather systems and market conditions.

The brief survey, which can be completed online at www.nfus.org.uk, or a copy requested by telephoning 0131 472 4000, will gather information on how the weather has affected farms this year. Among the questions being asked they are seeking to quantify how much unharvested crops remain, how much winter crops have not been planted, the effects on fodder stocks, how much earlier stock has been housed this year and the expected impact on cashflow and the need for extra credit facilities.

NFUS is also asking members what measures would help them most, such as – in the short term – access to credit or a cross-compliance amnesty; in the medium term, support for drainage or, in the long term, support for collaborative grain drying or storage. NFUS will use the survey results in its discussions with banks in order to press the case for considerate lending practices and also with the Scottish Government as it adjusts the priorities of the existing SRDP as well as its successor, which is in the early stages of construction.

Launching the survey, NFUS president, Nigel Miller said: “Recent months have left scars on the land and broken the projected budgets of many farms. No farm enterprise has escaped the extreme weather or market volatility. While the overall picture of great difficulty for Scottish agriculture is clear and we can anticipate many of the problems that are occurring on our members’ farms, if we are to take any kind of focused remedial action, we must measure the most acute pressure points.

“It’s hard to be objective about climate change and what moves the jetstream but it does appear that we have moved into an era of higher rainfall over much of Scotland. The world seems to be an even more turbulent place shocked by extreme climate events and rapid moves in commodity prices. That is matched by swings in value, quality and yields, which are hard to manage through contracts, forward-selling or futures markets.

“Our survey will help pinpoint where intervention is needed to bridge businesses into a new season and explore options on how our farm businesses can build a higher level of resilience into their operations.