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27/08/13 11:33

First weather payments for farmers

Rural Affairs Secretary confirms compensation paid for fallen stock.

More than 4,000 farmers across Scotland who lost livestock during this year’s extreme weather have received compensation from the Scottish Government.

On a visit to Arran, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead confirmed most of the Scottish Government’s £750,000 Fallen Stock Fund has now been paid out. It comes as Scottish Government officials continue to process Weather Aid applications.

While on Arran, Mr Lochhead met farmers who suffered one of Scotland’s worst snow storms in living memory to find out how they were recovering, and how they were preparing for the winter to come.

The Rural Affairs Secretary said:

“This year’s severe snow resulted in a significant number of livestock deaths across Scotland. As well as the distress of seeing so many animals dying, many farmers also faced financial losses.

“That is why the Scottish Government has made a total of £6.5 million compensation available, and I am pleased to confirm that more than £730,000 in fallen stock payments should have now reached the bank accounts of 4,082 farmers across Scotland. This will go some way to helping meet the additional costs involved in disposing of carcases. More than half of these funds have gone to farmers in South West Scotland which was particularly badly affected by the snow.

“Weather Aid applications are still being processed, with payments expected to begin within weeks. There are still some final checks to carry out, though, before individuals can receive confirmation of whether a payment will be made. This process is expected to be completed by early September.

“Arran suffered some of the worst snow this winter and I would like to commend farmers here on this island for all of the work they did helping to clear roads and get the power back on. I am keen to find out first-hand how they are managing now, and what preparations they are making for the coming cold months.”

Notes to editors

The £6.5 million total compensation to farmers comprises £500,000 for the Fallen Stock Fund and £6 million Weather Aid - of which £250,000 was used for the Fallen Stock Fund.

So far, £730,623.52 from the Fallen Stock Fund has been paid out with some additional applications currently under consideration.

Farmers in large areas of the Highlands and Islands, including Arran, have a special derogation to allow carcases to be buried on farm.

At the last meeting of the Weather Aid Expert Group, agreement was reached on the eligibility criteria for applications and the level of payment for losses. As a consequence, payments to farmers who submitted successful applications are expected to begin within weeks.

It is important that payments made under this scheme comply with block exemption and EU state aid de minimis rules, which is why Scottish Government officials have been verifying the evidence provided by farmers to support their claims. Some final checks are being carried out and, during early September, contact will be made with those farmers who were not able to provide data that can be verified. This will allow the completion of all payments. Until this process is completed, the Scottish Government cannot confirm whether individual applications have been successful.