2013-04-17 xml
NSA Reiterates the Need for Sustained Action on Fallen Stock

It is now weeks since the snow fell, but the National Sheep Association (NSA) is urging all the devolved nations to sustain support for the sheep farmers who were hit so hard by the unseasonable weather.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “The snow may have all but gone now, but the impact is still being felt in sheep farming communities and it is important that action is sustained. We are pleased to see that Scotland and Northern Ireland have pledged sustained support for their farmers, including helping cover the cost of Fallen Stock on affected farms.

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And while it is disappointing that the Welsh Government will not be covering Fallen Stock costs, it is heartening to hear this afternoon’s announcement that they have extended the derogation on burying stock, made a £500,000 donation to farming charities and brought forward Single Farm Payments for those affected to mid-October. We would have liked to see money made available for Fallen Stock disposals, as we still hope will happen in England.

“Disposing of Fallen Stock off farms is a regulatory requirement imposed on livestock farmers and NSA strongly feels the cost of compliance following the extreme climatic conditions, which were beyond the control or expectation of farmers, must be met by Governments. Farmers are still now discovering carcases and the least that can be done at this incredibly difficult time is help them pay for the cost of disposal. It is important that all parts of the UK are treated fairly, and this is not the case in England or Wales. The situation is particularly critical in England, where no financial support has been offered. For England to have been completely neglected is unacceptable and we urge Defra to take urgent action.”

NSA representatives have been regularly meeting with Government officials in all areas of the UK but, despite a face-to-face plea to David Heath, Minister of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and a proposal submitted via letter, no promise of any financial assistance has come for England.

NSA has also asked Ministers in all parts of the UK to make statements to put affected sheep farmers at ease. Mr Stocker says: “Many of the farmers who were hit hard by the snow will never be able to record the full extent of their losses, particularly as not all carcases will be found. These people are therefore hugely concerned about future consequences should they suddenly get a RPA inspection or be challenged by Trading Standards. We have urged Defra and the Welsh Government to issue reassurance that RPA and local authorities will be pragmatic and supportive to farmers in the aftermath of this situation.”

The legacy of the unseasonable weather, including serious grass shortages, is still being felt on many farms. NSA is also urging banks and commercial companies to be aware of the longer-term impact the crisis will have, especially in terms of cash flow for those farmers with far fewer lambs to sell that in previous years.


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