Round straw bales in stubble field during rainy and misty day© FLPA/REX/Shutterstock

The Scottish government is to set up a special advisory panel to help farmers and crofters respond to the effects of extreme weather on their businesses.

Scottish rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing announced the establishment of the weather advisory panel in a speech to the AgriScot farm business event.

It would bring together government and industry experts and act as an additional source of advice and possible solutions for farmers affected by poor weather, said Mr Ewing.

See also: Wet summer hits Scottish livestock farmers

“This will allow us to rapidly share information, to disseminate best practice, to foster co-operation an consider other practical options that might be available.”

Mr Ewing said he hoped the panel would be a good example of the government and industry pulling together to help farmers and crofters.

It comes as Scottish farmers continue to battle effects of wettest year in 80 years, with rainfall totalling 170% of the annual average.

Difficult winter

Many farmers also face the prospect of a difficult winter. The wet summer stunted grass growth, made it difficult to produce forage and forced many producers to house animals earlier than usual this autumn.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “Scotland’s farmers and crofters face the massive challenge of a very high-cost winter because of an exceptionally wet summer and autumn across much of Scotland.”

Changing weather

“The Cabinet secretary’s commitment to creating a weather advisory panel in Scotland gives us an opportunity to react in smarter ways to our ever-changing weather.”

Mr McCornick said it was important to learn from recent weather events like the extreme flooding in early 2016, as well as the wet summer of 2017.

“It wasn’t the high rainfall that did the damage, but rather the lack of dry days when silage, harvest, slurry-spreading or ploughing could be completed,” he said.

Farmers could do nothing about the weather, added Mr McCornick.

But a panel that could quickly analyse and assess emerging weather events could help farmers take action to help mitigate the worst effects.