Are the government doing enough to assist the UK agricultural sector?
A winter that has been marked by heavy snow and blizzards in some parts of the country has had a devastating impact on the UK’s agricultural sector.
With thousands of livestock killed due to the freak weather conditions, the government has unveiled a raft of measures designed to help farmers get back on their feet.
Is the £250,000 boost enough to make a difference?
The latest of these is a is a fund of up to £250,000, which is on offer to reimburse farmers for the costs of removing sheep killed a result of heavy snow.
Farming Minister David Heath has revealed that devolved governments are also set to make comparable pledges to communities of livestock farmers.
The move comes after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) gave farmers permission for onsite burial or burning of livestock if they are unable to transport the livestock to a collection vehicle.
Driving rules relaxed
The government department has also relaxed rules on driver hours to allow additional time for key deliveries of animal feed to be made.
Welcoming Defra’s support, National Farmer’s Union (NFU) Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “This very welcome move by Defra will come as a huge relief to those farming families who have struggled with the worst spring snow in living memory and have since faced the very specific problem of the cost of removal of large numbers of dead animals.
“The NFU will now continue to work very closely with the government on the detail of exactly how this money will be distributed.”
The Scottish government has also announced that farmers in the region will receive Scottish Beef Scheme payments, totalling some £22m, with 95% set to be completed this Wednesday (April 24th).
NFU Scotland livestock policy manager John Sleigh argued safeguarding Scottish beef is crucial, and argued that the support package couldn’t have come at a more crucial time:
"A prolonged and ferocious winter means that across Scotland, farmers are unable to get their cattle out to grass and are having to buy in extra, expensive feed. This is leaving many producers struggling to make ends meet.
"Scotch Beef is one of the biggest jewels in Scottish agriculture’s crown and deservedly so. It enjoys a domestic and international reputation for taste, quality and traceability and its future must be safeguarded. The Scottish Beef Scheme provides important, coupled support to active beef farmers.”
With intensive lobbying from the NFU in the North West of England helping to push forward support for affected farmers, and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson holding a meeting next month to highlight the impact of the snow on farming conditions and look at strategies to further support the farming industry, it seems that Britain’s agricultural industry may have some way to go before it is fully recovered.
Agricultural business struggling in the current climate may want to seek corporate insolvency advice on how to stabilise the business and streamline operations.