Scottish farmers whose high-value vegetable crops were destroyed by Storm Babet have been given an assurance that government money will be committed to protecting farmland from future rainfall extremes.
During visits to farms in the wake of some of the worst flooding ever seen in Scotland, Scottish rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon said she had seen first-hand the “significant impacts” on mature crops of potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables.
Speaking at NFU Scotland’s Autumn Conference on Thursday 26 October, Ms Gougeon said it was clear that farmers, crofters, families and workers would need help and support.
The minister pledged to work with the industry to “bring forward” support for repairs to damaged flood banks.
Flooding will also be added to the agenda of the roundtable on water scarcity which Ms Gougeon had already committed to in this year’s Programme for Government after periods of drought.
“I have also asked officials to look at the scope of the Agri-Environment Climate scheme which I have committed to re-open for a further round in 2024, of course if budgets allow for that,” she said.
“I want to see what more we can offer within that to help farmers address these twin challenges (flooding and drought).”
The minister referenced farming with nature and the impacts this can have on farming businesses, including beavers burrowing in flood banks in Tayside and sea eagle predation on livestock.
There was also the impact on grassland and tree saplings from uncontrolled deer numbers and geese in concentrated populations damaging pasture and crops.
“Lots of you are working with us to protect and restore nature and to address biodiversity loss on your farms, but we know that that can also result in unexpected costs, impacts and stress,” said Ms Gougeon.
“We recognise these impacts and we are working with businesses to find practical ways to mitigate and prevent this damage.”
The minister also announced £50,000 funding to farm charity Rsabi to help bolster the charity’s Flooding Crisis Fund and the targeted financial support it will provide to those affected by the recent flooding.
Applications to the Fund can be made at rsabi.org.uk.
Farmers and crofters who have lost silage or straw can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Rsabi helpline 0808 1234 555.