The announcement last week by Cabinet secretary for rural affairs, Richard Lochhead, that Scotland’s livestock industry will receive aid of Â£25 million (€36m) to counteract the effects of foot-and-mouth disease was very much welcomed.
President of the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS), Jim McLaren, emphasised the necessity of short-term funding for the red meat industry.
A scheme is currently in place for hill farmers to dispose of around 250,000 worthless light lambs at Â£15 (€21) a head. Â£5 million (€7m) had been allocated to this scheme, but it is estimated that around Â£2m (€2.8m) will not be used, which, McLaren believes, should be allocated to the pig sector, which has not yet received direct aid.
He commented that “there are around 5,000 cull sows still on Scottish farms without a market. By diverting some compensation to pig farmers, the payment could be around Â£50 (€71)”.
In addition, he mentioned that “an amicable meeting” with Hilary Benn (Environment Secretary at Downing Street) took place and the London government is willing to negotiate some more compensation for Scottish pig farmers.
Farmers are aware, however, that the Â£3.5 billion (€4.9b) compensation paid directly to farmers back in 2001 will not be repeated this time.