Scotland’s farming union will be highlighting the urgent
need for foot and mouth compensation for Scottish farmers when
they meet Secretary of State Hilary Benn MP and other MPs in
Westminster this week.
Hilary Benn MP
The meetings follow the row last week over reports that UK Government
compensation for Scottish farmers was removed from a parliamentary
statement made by Mr Benn.
NFU Scotland officials are meeting with Mr Benn tomorrow (Tuesday)
evening. They will outline what is required for the Scottish agricultural
industry to alleviate the immediate welfare and financial crisis.
In addition, NFUS officials will be meeting MPs to outline the same
issues in advance of a parliamentary debate on foot and mouth on
NFUS estimates that around £7 million in emergency funding
is required immediately to fund Scottish schemes to alleviate welfare
problems within the sheep, pig and dairy industries. The closure
of European markets has resulted in animals being stranded on farm
without any market outlet. Whilst there was a limited lifting of
the export ban last Friday, it does not apply to live animals, is
subject to extremely onerous restrictions and there is a huge backlog
that cannot be processed.
There is also an immediate cashflow crisis on Scottish livestock
farms whose lifeline Autumn income has been severely restricted
as a result of trading restrictions. Whilst many restrictions have
been lifted, subsequent price collapses require immediate compensation
for Scotland in the region of £50 million industry-wide.
Jim McLaren, NFU Scotland President, said:
“We are now into the eleventh week of turmoil following the
Foot and Mouth outbreak in Surrey. The UK Government must be accountable
for the welfare and financial crisis on Scottish livestock farms.
This disease came from a government-controlled facility and there
is a Treasury contingency fund set aside for such exceptional circumstances..
“Animals are now facing major welfare problems as a result
of a lack of grazing and overcrowding. It is a priority that this
is sorted. The Scottish Government has had to step up to the plate
in light of the lack of action from UK Government. However, the
welfare scheme of light lambs addresses just one problem. There
are very real issues for older breeding sheep and pigs and for dairy
calves which would normally be exported but which now have no market.
The UK Government has a moral obligation to alleviate these problems.
“When I meet with Mr Benn, I will also be continuing the fight
to get compensation for the wider market losses incurred as a result
of Foot and Mouth. Our members are facing losses which, in some
cases, stretch into tens of thousands of pounds. With extra costs
as well, many are staring into an abyss with banks unable to lend
them any more money. Without immediate compensation, the UK Government
will preside over the disappearance of vast swathes of Scotland’s
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