NFU SCOTLAND president Andrew McCornick has shared his thoughts about last week’s extraordinary snowstorms, saying that for Scottish farming, it was both the best of times, and the worst of times.

“When I think about the recent snow that the majority of Scotland had to endure, I do suffer a bit from ‘glass half-full’ syndrome,” said the Dumfriesshire farmer.

“I have to praise on high the efforts of our farmers and crofters who just got out there and got on with it. There is no choice for anyone that keeps livestock, and the welfare of animals was, as usual, the number one priority.

“There were significant amounts of milk that had to go into slurry stores as milk tankers could not get through to lift the milk. Farmers still got out and milked the cows, with frozen parlours having to be thawed to get on with the job and then seeing the effort thrown away. Most will have been insured but not all.

“The meteorologists deserve thanks as well – we were warned and given opportunity to be prepared as far as possible. While farmers coped as best they could, last week’s snow saw our food supply chain exposed as being very fragile and needs a robust examination.

“How can it be that, within hours, there were major retailers unable to stack their shelves with fresh produce like milk and bread? I accept that I wouldn’t want retailer delivery lorries travelling during red weather warnings, but last week’s weather has exposed a culture of short-termism and a lack of contingency planning.

“There needs to be clear communications on what weather warnings mean and what should and shouldn’t be on the roads,” concluded Mr McCornick.

Clear communications were given by the Government to avoid all unnecessary travel where possible and First Minster Nicola Sturgeon even criticised the drivers of certain HGV’s who took to the roads, during a parliamentary session. The ‘Beast from the East was also an opportunity for Fergus Ewing’s recently appointed Weather Advisory Panel to demonstrate its significance to the farming community and after convening this week to review the impact of the Siberian weather, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said the following:

“The Weather Panel convened yesterday to share insights into the impact of the recent weather conditions on the resilience of the farming and crofting sector. The Panel noted the challenges that many farmers and crofters were facing both as a result of the recent weather and, in some areas of Scotland, the wet weather last year, and also that farmers have said weather warnings in advance of the severest weather were timely and that they enabled them for example to get sheep off the hills.

“The Panel agreed to continue to do all they can to ensure effective communication with farmers and crofters about the potential impact of forecast weather conditions and the support that can be provided to farmers and crofters, for example through RSABI and Farm Advisory Service.

“Partners also noted the flood warnings that have been issued in some parts of Scotland and agreed to raise awareness within the agricultural sector. Partners will continue planned work to look at measures that can support the longer-term resilience of the sector, including support for feed budgeting.”