NFU Scotland is asking the Scottish Government to urgently consider five options to address the immediate financial and welfare crisis facing Scotland’s livestock sector as a result of the foot and mouth disease outbreak.
They are as follows:
• Allowing movements of animals from hill farms to other premises
• Allowing stock that has been taken and sold at markets on the Islands to move direct to farms on the mainland
• Introducing a welfare disposal scheme, with compensation, for lambs whose market outlets are all closed
• Introducing a feed scheme to assist producers who cannot move animals, have no grazing left and no cashflow available
• Examining the use of existing support schemes to deliver lifeline payments to farms. In particular looking at options under the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS), the Single Farm Payment (SFP) scheme and the Beef Calf Scheme.
Regarding the lifting of Scottish domestic movement and export restrictions, NFUS is stressing that, given it is only 48 hours since foot and mouth re-emerged, the over-riding emphasis at the moment is on disease control.
Therefore, the immediate priority is protecting disease-free areas from possible routes of infection, as far as possible. NFUS supports the division of the UK into separate areas, defined by disease risk.
Scotland could be ‘classified’ as one area and areas of England and Wales could make the same moves.
Currently, there are no cross-border movements of animals between England and Scotland. The Scottish industry collectively agreed on Friday (14 September) that that position would remain the same over the weekend.
The situation should then be reviewed on Monday, by which point there will be a further 72 hours of information of the nature of this new outbreak.
NFUS President Jim McLaren said the Union is being inundated with calls from farmers in desperate situations.
“There are masses of stock in the wrong place and that can’t move. Farms are out of grazing and out of money, so the welfare and financial crisis is getting worse by the hour.
“The Scottish Government completely appreciates the scale of the problem and is committed to working with industry bodies to try and provide some short-term relief,” said Mr McLaren.