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£6m for struggling Scottish farmers

Richard Lochhead visited Dumfries and Galloway farmers in April Credit: ITV News Border

Farmers who were badly hit by the heavy snow this spring are to be given £6 million in aid by the Scottish Government.

The Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead visited farmers in Dumfries and Galloway last month after snow storms killed hundreds of livestock and damaged buildings in the south of the country.

Mr Lochhead pledged the cash in an address to the Scottish Parliament today.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for South Scotland, Jim Hume, welcomed the funding package but urged the government to target farmers most in need as soon as possible.

The President of NFU Scotland, Nigel Miller, has welcomed the announcement.

He said:

"This significant package of support is a very positive result which, for many people, could provide the lifeline they require.

"Some of the worst storms of recent times might now have passed, but they have left in their wake losses for every farming sector, a legacy which will have its full impact this autumn when lambs are sold and crops are harvested.

"There are some areas of the country where the winter snowstorms devastated, but the severe weather problems of 2012 and 2013 have impacted not just in these areas but across the whole of Scotland resulting in livestock and crop losses, as well as significantly increased feed requirements.

"This variability has been recognised in the package of Government support and will mean that aid can be targeted at those in need wherever they are located.

"Many businesses will enter this winter with budget challenges due to significantly reduced income, compounded by increased input costs. This Government assistance will help businesses pilot their way beyond the winter and into 2014, when the real road to recovery will start.

Cumbrian farmers to benefit from Minister's visit

A plan to help improve farming businesses in Cumbrian communities is being developed with help from the Farming Minster David Heath.

He's in the county as part of his Rural Roadshows, which aim to find out how the Government can help support rural businesses and what is needed to bring about growth.

In Kendal, Mr Heath has been finding out what more the Government can do to enable farmers to prosper and grow.

As part of the Cumbrian Uplands Prosperity Plan, 76 new work premises are planned and two communities could be the first in the country to be offered superfast fibre optic broadband.

"Cumbria’s uplands are not just home to some of the most inspiring landscapes in the country, but they support thousands of farms and businesses. We want to see all these businesses thrive as we work to rebuild the nation’s finances.

“On my Rural Roadshow, I’ll meet some of Cumbria’s business expertsand I’m ready to take their advice on what more the Government can do to grow the rural economy and create local jobs."

– David Heath, Farming Minister

Mr Heath will visit Kendal Auction Mart, to see how the investment in their business will effect other rural businesses' prospects.

The Auction Mart’s new premises near the M6 will improve both capacity and accessibility for upland farmers in Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire.

"I think it is vital that ministers visit the area and I am absolutely delighted that Mr Heath has taken the time to come, as I think that when people come from London to the country it makes conversations much more productive and easier.”

– John Gelderd, Chair of the National Sheep Association

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Farming Minister visits Kendal

Agricultural and business experts from Cumbria will have the chance to put their views across to Farming Minister David Heath.

Mr Heath is visiting Kendal, where he'll be discussing the future of Government rural policy as part of his Rural Roadshow.

Defra Ministers are taking part in a series of events across the country, with the main focus on giving communities and businesses a chance to voice their concerns on rural matters.

Issues such as rural growth and jobs will be high on the agenda.

Local experts from the Countryside Alliance, National Farmers' Union, National Sheep Association, and Natural England will be among those putting their views forward.

Mr Heath will also visit Lakeland Food Park and Plumgarths sausage makers, where he'll learn about locally produced food.

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