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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.

Farming minister pledges support for Scottish farmers

Speaking at High Barlay near Gatehouse of Fleet, Richard Lochhead said the Scottish Government would give more support to farmers once the scale of the losses to farmers was known but stopped short of outlining what sort of support it would be or how much.

"We are working with the industry to measure the damage caused by the weather to agriculture in south-west Scotland.

"We want to make sure businesses can remain viable and help farms recover. We will make more support available once we understand the scale of the damage.

"It's clear there has been significant economic losses."

– Richard Lochhead, Rural Affairs Secretary

He urged banks and landowners to "lend a sympathetic ear", adding it had been a disaster for farmers.

The Scottish Government has already provided £500,000 to help farmers pay for collection of dead animals lost in the snow.

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Rural Affairs Secretary meets local farmers

Richard Lochhead meets local farmers Credit: ITV News Border

The Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, has been meeting with farmers in Galloway to discuss the impact the severe weather has had on their finances.

Hundreds of farmers struggled to feed their stock and many dairy farmers were forced to throw out their milk as access to and from farms was restricted off due to snow.

Mr Lochhead visited High Barlay farm near of Gatehouse of Fleet, which was badly affected by the heavy snow fall and freezing temperatures.

He answered questions from representatives of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland and the National Sheep Association.

Richard Lochhead has been answering questions from farmers and representatives of the NFU Credit: ITV News Border

Farmers are calling for additional financial help from the Government to help with the cost of collecting fallen stock.

Mr Lochhead said:

"We have highlighted there are a number of other sources of potential support already available, including RSABI - for whom the Scottish Government recently announced support of £50,000.

"I have also given my support to the NFUS in asking the banks to take a sensitive approach to farmers at this challenging time."

Rural Affairs Secretary to meet with struggling farmers

The Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead is meeting with farmers who have been affected by the severe weather over the past few weeks.

Mr Lochhead will hear about the challenges farmers are facing after losing stock and struggling to source food.

He is visiting a farm near Gatehouse of Fleet that has endured difficult circumstances recently.

"I know the severe winter weather parts of Scotland has experienced has been devastating for our farmers, particularly as it's come at lambing time and when they are also dealing with rising feed costs and demand for more feed.

"When the severe weather struck, the Scottish Government acted quickly, holding emergency discussions with the industry to put in place help and equipment on the ground as well as providing £500,000 support to assist with fallen stock costs."

– Richard Lochhead, Rural Affairs Secretary

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