The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has alerted the Scottish Government to the plight of crofters’ livestock due to the lack of grazing and has asked for emergency payments to be made.
Crofters in the Highlands and Islands are facing crisis due to the lack of grazing due to severe weather and low temperatures. Joyce Wilkinson, a director of the SCF and a crofter herself said, “Those of us who live on the west coast and islands are now reaching breaking point with the extreme weather conditions. I know of many crofters and farmers who cannot get their cattle out due to no growth in the grass and extreme weather. Hay and straw are running out and many cannot afford to get in another load.”
The SCF has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Richard Lochhead, bringing the situation to his attention and asking for emergency payments to be made before it is too late and animals are sent away.Ms Wilkinson continued, “Bulls can’t be put out with cows and the cows, having lost so much weight if they were out this winter, are not bulling. Grass, if any, has low sugar due to lack of sunlight, compounding the crisis by low weight gains on stores at the end of the season.”
She added, “Tourism is suffering too due to weather conditions so there is no money coming in from that to buy the extra hay and feed necessary. Everywhere I go I see and hear of near crisis conditions. We brought it up with government officials and were told that the CAP ‘rebate’ was to be paid this week and that could be considered an emergency payment to help with the crisis. But the rebate is based on a percentage of the producer’s claim, excluding the first £2000 – which of course means some small producers will receive very low payments, if any.”
Ms Wilkinson concluded, “SCF are convinced that a real emergency payment needs to be made as soon as possible to avoid catastrophe for many small producers, who are the source of calves for the Scottish beef system, which in turn will face problems if something is not done now.”