The NFU has recently stated that the government, along with landlords, must support struggling farmers who have lost livestock due to the extreme weather. These farmers are at a serious risk of going out of business and are in desperate need of help.
The union also stated that this particularly applies to many farmers who are in the hills and uplands, who have reported that this is the worst spring in living memory. Due to the sheer scale of the losses some farmers are unable to remove the lost animals, and the union is calling for help to be offered to these farmers.
NFU Director General Andy Robertson has spoken to Defra Farming Minister David Heath to highlight concerns for farmers who could yet be forced out of business due to the snow and freezing temperatures.
Mr Robertson said: “Hill farmers and their stock are well used and well equipped to deal with snow during winter – this is a natural part of the changing seasons. What has made this so exceptional is the quantity of snow, the prolonged low temperatures and strong winds so much later in the season when sheep are at their most vulnerable in late pregnancy or at the start of lambing.
“Farmers have done everything possible to prepare and care for their stock – bringing them down to lower levels where possible, stocking up on fodder and for sheep used to coming inside, bringing them into available buildings.
“Anecdotally, we have heard that snow is 10s of feet deep due to drifts on some north facing hills, with potentially hundreds of sheep dead underneath. It may be a few months before the snow on north facing slopes melts enough to see the real impact.
“Financially, this could drive some farmers out of business, and those on the brink need all the support they can get. It is bad enough to lose stock but it adds insult to injury to then have to pay large sums to have them removed. There is scope for such costs to be minimised under the Fallen Stock Scheme and I have asked the Minister to ensure that there is clear direction to make full use of this.
“We will also be approaching major landlords to ask for flexibility on payment deadlines and rent rises for farmers caught up in the devastating weather.”