ALTHOUGH farmers were badly impacted by last week's bad weather, transport companies also experienced waves of disruption, due to travel routes being dangerous and inaccessible.

Transport manager at Davidsons Animal Feeds, Stephen Hunter, experienced this first hand, and said he believed the business has never been so badly affected by snow: "The snow was the worst I have ever seen it, and, as of Monday this week, farmers were still saying that the lorry would never make it up their roads because they were still inaccessible."

Asked how far the company had been set back by the weather, he added: "I doubt we will get caught up until spring now, because of this, and we are now sitting at around three days behind, and farmers now require more feeding, so we have to catch up with those orders, too. We are usually a 24-hour turnaround service, and we are now sitting at a three-day turnaround."

Orders to be delivered to farmers were not the only hold up, as Mr Hunter explained that bringing materials in was also difficult: "Raw materials have been severely held up. We booked a load from down south last Thursday, and we still haven't seen it.

"I think the biggest problem this time was that usually when we get snow, it's only a few areas that are hit, and we can concentrate on those areas, and try to ensure we can accommodate them as much as possible, but this time, everybody was hit and it was impossible to manage it."

During the bad weather week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticised HGV companies for being out on the roads, and said: “There were far more HGVs on that road (M80) than there should have been when a red warning was in place.

“I saw some branded HGVs in pictures yesterday and, given the branding on them, I’d struggle to say that their transport was unavoidable. So that is a message I think should go out very strongly from this chamber to companies who use HGVs during weather conditions like this."

However, Mr Hunter felt that those comments were unjustified, and commented: "I think she just wants to blame the lorry drivers, but that is ridiculous, and I just wonder at what point do we decide to take those lorries off?

"I certainly did try by the time the red weather warning was in place, as soon as I could, but if you pull 100 lorries off of the M80, where on earth do you put them all?"

Discussing getting things back to normal, Mr Hunter said that things were slowly improving: "On Thursday, we only had two lorries out, and then we had two thirds of the lorries out on Friday, and the full fleet was back out by Saturday, but some of the lorries had to turn back on Saturday, because conditions were still so bad.

"We had to pay men on Thursday, even though we hadn't turned a wheel, so that's obviously not ideal financially, but we have to pay our staff. Overall, it's been a big hassle for the farming industry, and it's going to be a sore job for everybody, including all of the country's feed companies," he said.

Harbro livestock nutrition director, Stephen Kenyon, also faced the same challenges as Mr Hunter, and had issues all over the country: "The weather has had a significant impact on what we could get delivered to farms, and it wasn't so much farm roads that were the issue, as farmers could clear them, but it was the roads surrounding the farms that made things difficult.

"We also struggled to get raw materials delivered, especially from the east coast of Scotland. There was a Plan B in place, in which we were going to import materials from Liverpool, but they were just as badly affected."

Commenting on the recovery process, he added: "We are starting to catch up now, but we were a couple of days behind because of it, and yesterday we still had some farms that we could not get access to."

Mr Kenyon also commended the efforts of farmers across the country during the bad weather, and for helping Harbro where possible, and said: "A lot of farmers came to us in tractors and 4x4s to pick up some feed to keep them going, so that certainly helped a lot."