THE SCOTTISH Government has been in talks with agricultural stakeholders to ensure preparations are in place to help the sector cope with pressures from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cabinet secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: “We are acutely aware of the pressures that the entire food supply chain will be under as this pandemic develops and are discussing urgently how we might support them in the short term through this challenging period. That includes looking at what farmers and crofters will need support with to get through the weeks ahead.”

Over the Autumn and Winter they have offered Scottish farmers and crofters access to almost £409 million through the National BPS and LFASS Schemes, paying out more than £381 million, plus nearly £90 million in historic convergence payments.

Mr Ewing suggested that this should help farmers and crofters with cashflow, including to invest in essential supplies like animal feed, and pay bills.

“More widely, I have chaired two conference call summits with supermarkets, shops and suppliers to protect the continued supply of key products,” He continued. “Retailers are committed to ensuring supplies continue to reach all areas of the country, including rural and island communities.

“The Scottish Government recognises that farming has an important role to play going forward throughout this outbreak and I will continue to listen to and support the sector over the coming weeks and months,” Mr Ewing concluded.