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24/07/13 01:00

Weather Aid update

Expert group to begin considering applications for Scottish Government funding.

Almost 1,000 applications have been received for Scottish Government funding to help farmers hit by extreme winter weather.

The £6 million weather aid scheme was announced earlier this year by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

The Scottish Government will chair a meeting of the Weather Aid Expert Group today (Wednesday 24 July) in Edinburgh to begin considering requests for funding. Due to the number and variety of applications received individual funding allocations are unlikely to be decided on Wednesday, and these will be announced in due course.

However, early analysis indicates about half of the applications received are from the South West of Scotland, and most applications relate to the loss of livestock.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Earlier this year, parts of Scotland experienced prolonged and extreme wintry conditions – including some of the worst snow in living memory. This had a devastating effect on many farmers, particularly as it happened at lambing time.

“The Scottish Government acted swiftly to provide immediate assistance through the Fallen Stock Fund as well as longer-term support, and our £6 million Weather Aid scheme has now received some 958 requests for funding. The expert group will begin considering the numerous and varied applications today. It is important that the group prioritises those farmers who were hardest hit – taking into account EU state aid rules - and I look forward to hearing its funding decisions in due course.”

Notes to editors

Details of the £6 million Weather Aid scheme were announced in May 2013:

Applications were accepted from producers who:

• have lost 10 or more per cent of breeding ewes/lambs put to the ram/goat
• will have over 20 per cent fewer lambs/kids reared this year from equivalent breeding stock numbers
• have re-sown 20 per cent of an arable crop
• have lost 5 or more per cent of other breeding livestock
• will have more than 10 per cent fewer calves/other livestock reared this year from equivalent breeding stock numbers

The Weather Aid group, chaired by Chief Agricultural Officer Drew Sloan, has recommended the Scottish Government register a block exemption scheme as well as using de minimis rules. This will comply with EU state aid rules.

The group is meeting today in Edinburgh to begin the process of reviewing applications and finalise the level of support available for individual producers.