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Slow start to spring adds to problems.

Stuart McFarlane Farmers are being left to count the cost of recent extreme weather as the slow start to spring takes its grip on supplies and livestock levels.

Continued wet and wintry conditions into the traditional spring months have thrown farming schedules into chaos and led to a prolonged and increasingly expensive winter for many.

Farmers, of course, have been at the heart of rural communities cut off from deliveries and struggled to keep regular schedules up and running. It was a situation that prompted the setting up of a special 'weather advisory panel' taskforce to help farmers best tackle challenging conditions by sharing information and best practice.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, who farms at Lochfoot, told the Standard: "It has been a really difficult time for many farmers since last July and the weather has left winter supplies short, meaning that many farmers feel under pressure.

"There has been a shortage of fodder available and sourcing extra feeds can be very difficult, especially because some will be heading over to Ireland where they are having their own issues also.

"The number of fallen stock incidents are proving higher than normal but that's simply down to the fact that animals are unable to stand up to these conditions."

Alongside these worries, the winter weather has provided fresh worries for arable rotation with a poor autumn followed by the unseasonal spring, piling up the challenge of getting on with growing and harvesting crops. The issues surrounding fodder have also been amplified as a result of poor grass growth in fields, reducing the grazing opportunities for cattle and increasing the repercussions for farmers trying to feed cattle on scarce resources.

And added to the atmospheric pressures, Mr McCornick also said that political pressures were failing to ease the minds of worried farmers.

He continued: "Most farmers are now trying to find their own solutions to issues, including trying to buy their own fodder but supplies remain low and the costs are high.

"The uncertainty caused by Brexit is not helping the situation at all because farmers are attempting to plan for the long term and are unable to do so at the moment."

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Publication:Dumfries and Galloway Standard (Dumfriesshire, Scotland)
Date:Apr 13, 2018
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