SCOTLAND'S new Agricultural Weather Advisory Panel has met for the first time, presumably to stand together looking out a window into the December mirk, whilst tutting and shaking their heads.

Commenting on this first meeting, Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Having announced the formation of the new agricultural weather advisory panel at AgriScot, I am delighted to confirm that the panel met for the first time earlier today.

“Drawing on expertise from across our agricultural sector, the panel, when triggered, will act as a taskforce for rapidly sharing information, best practice and encouraging co-operation across industry to help farmers and crofters respond effectively to challenging weather conditions, both in the short term and in building longer term resilience," said Mr Ewing.

“With some parts of Scotland experiencing the wettest weather for 80 years, I am pleased that a range of stakeholders have agreed to participate in the panel. This panel has an important role to play in providing advice to the agricultural sector and I look forward to working with its members in the months ahead.”

The current membership of the panel is SAC's Chris McDonald, SEPA's Stephen Field, RSABI's Mags Granger, HSBC's Neil Wilson, NFUS chief executive Scott Walker and vice president Gary Mitchell, and Kevin Mills of the AIC.

Mr Walker commented: “Changing weather patterns and extreme weather events are testing the resilience of Scotland’s farmers and crofters on a more regular basis than ever before.

“This panel has the ability to learn from experience, share best practice and react quickly in times of crisis to make our industry more robust.

“This year’s prolonged wet weather has left many farmers across Scotland desperately short of forage, bedding and unable to access sodden ground to complete routine but necessary tasks like harvest, ploughing, planting and spreading slurry for months on end," he added. 

"On Monday, NFU Scotland will be visiting our members in Ayrshire to see the damage that the summer and autumn has wreaked there and it will be a picture replicated across many parts of Scotland this year.”