Scots feel LFA status is well earned after dreadful summer
By Allan Wright
NINE-TENTHS of Scotland is officially less favoured and its farmers feel they truly deserve the status this summer.
Prolonged rain has left most still trying to secure second cut silage, hay making has been impossible and dairy cows have been housed and are on full winter rations. Some beef sucklers are also inside, lambs have been slow to finish, and the grain harvest continues to be snatched by the hour.
Hill farmers in the far north are surviving only on subsidy. They saw a years work lost last week when store lamb prices crashed by 50% to £20, with some sold at £1 apiece.
Prospects for the rest of the season are grim. Feed grain is making less than £50/t after drying costs. Many are set to quit winter barley. Finished lamb prices are sliding and the beef trade remains in the doldrums, boding ill for the autumn suckled calf sales. The pigs crisis has been felt keenly in Scotland.
The weather has been disastrous and worst in the west. Tens of thousands of hill ewes remain unclipped and the teams of New Zealand shearers have left.
The lack of winter forage is worrying everyone. "We have both cows and young stock inside and on full winter rations. There was no value left in the grass," said Ayrshire farmer Willie Campbell, Low Holehouse.
"We are feeding our first cut silage with no second cut made because of the rain," added Charlie Gray, Kilmarnock. "We had 27in of rain by the end of July, which is 50% more than normal. Milk yields are down 200 litres a day from my 80 cows and we had super levy to pay so we have a cash flow crisis."
Robin Templeton, also from Kilmarnock, said: "It has become a salvage operation trying to get silage and barley. I know one field where they had to tow the combine out five times".
Clydesdale Banks David Douglas did not think overdrafts were escalating. But several farmers admitted their overdrafts were rising and nearing limits. One report said overdraft facilities had been withdrawn from 12 Ayrshire farmers this week. *