SCOTTISH PIG farmers have been granted a hardship fund of £715,000 to help with losses incurred by the closure of the Brechin abattoir earlier this year.

Quality Pork Limited, Scotland's only pig abattoir, had to close up for two weeks from January 23, after around 40 members of staff tested positive for Coronavirus.

The abattoir – which usually processes around 6000 pigs per week – soon faced a backlog in pigs, with many going out of carcase specification and losing value, resulting in additional costs for farmers and a disruption to pork exports.

The Scottish Government have now confirmed that pig farmers will be able to apply for a £715,000 hardship fund which will cover partial deductions applied to the price paid for pigs processed through the abattoir from February 8 up until the end of March. Further details of the scheme and how affected farmers are to be supported will be published on the ScotGov website in due course.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin welcomed the news: “I raised this very important issue with the First Minister at FMQs earlier this month, and directly with Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing, and I am really pleased the Scottish Government has now stepped in to support pig farmers in the north-east and across Scotland.

“The Covid-19 pandemic had already put pressure on pig farmers in how they work, and the temporary closure of the abattoir caused additional difficulties to a sector that is at the heart of the North East economy," she continued.

“This £715,000 hardship fund will help farmers access vital financial support now in the face of their current challenging working environment and I want to thank all the farmers in my constituency who got in touch to raise this issue with me.”

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing added: “I am keenly aware of the financial impact that the site closure had on pig producers, particularly in relation to reduced pork exports. The £715,000 will provided funding to pig farmers who have lost out through no fault of their own.”