NFUS in Westminster Discussions

Members from Scotland's Farming Union are in Westminster this week for a series of meetings with MPs to discuss the urgent need for FMD compensation for Scottish farmers.

The meetings follow the row last week over over reports that UK Government compensation for Scottish farmers was removed from a parliamentary statement made by Mr Benn.

NFU Scotland officials will be meeting Mr Benn this evening (16 October) to outline what is required for the Scottish agricultural industry to alleviate the immediate welfare and financial crisis.

In addition they will be meeting MPs to outline the same issues in advance of a parliamentary debate on FMD on Wednesday.

NFUS estimates that around £7 million in emergency funding is required immediately to fund Scottish schemes to alleviate welfare problems within the sheep, pig and dairy industries.

The closure of European markets has resulted in animals being stranded on farm without any market outlet. Whilst there was a limited lifting of the export ban last Friday, it does not apply to live animals, is subject to extremely onerous restrictions and there is a huge backlog that cannot be processed.

There is also an immediate cashflow crisis on Scottish livestock farms whose lifeline Autumn income has been severely restricted as a result of trading restrictions.

Whilst many restrictions have been lifted, subsequent price collapses require immediate compensation for Scotland in the region of £50 million industry-wide.

Jim McLaren, NFU Scotland President, said: "We are now into the eleventh week of turmoil following the Foot and Mouth outbreak in Surrey.

"The UK Government must be accountable for the welfare and financial crisis on Scottish livestock farms.

"This disease came from a government-controlled facility and there is a Treasury contingency fund set aside for such exceptional circumstances.

"Animals are now facing major welfare problems as a result of a lack of grazing and overcrowding. It is a priority that this is sorted.

"The Scottish Government has had to step up to the plate in light of the lack of action from UK Government.

"However, the welfare scheme of light lambs addresses just one problem. There are very real issues for older breeding sheep and pigs and for dairy calves which would normally be exported but which now have no market. The UK Government has a moral obligation to alleviate these problems.

"When I meet with Mr Benn, I will also be continuing the fight to get compensation for the wider market losses incurred as a result of Foot and Mouth.

"Our members are facing losses which, in some cases, stretch into tens of thousands of pounds. With extra costs as well, many are staring into an abyss with banks unable to lend them any more money.

"Without immediate compensation, the UK Government will preside over the disappearance of vast swathes of Scotland's livestock industry."

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