Sir, – As I write this letter, yet another blizzard is raging outside, after reading your front page article 'Fallen to the Beast,' in a recent The Scottish Farmer, where horror stories of the relentless winter are revealing that the winter of 2017/18 will be remembered as one of the most costly on record in terms of disposal of fallen stock and ever mounting feed bills.

Lambing on the hills is yet to get underway, but I feel sure it has the potential to go down in history as an extremely difficult one, with ewes struggling to find enough feed to keep themselves alive let alone provide quality milk to raise a lamb. When it does come along, it looks likely we will be destined to for a late spring as I keep a close eye on the long-range weather forecast.

Jim Walker, in his Farm View, said he's 'seen nothing like it in 20 years and feed bills will be horrendous.'

With hay and straw selling for prices that are akin to a double rollover win on the National Lottery and the constant stream of feed lorries travelling up and down the valley, feed bills will indeed be 'horrendous.'

As for seeing nothing like it for 20 years, as far as it has affected sheep health, I would suggest I have seen nothing like it since 1981.

Perhaps if my mentors had still been around, they might compare this winter to that of 1947. Our old shepherd, Andy, told me lambs were coming floating down the burn in the melting snow and said it was the best thing that could happen to them as far as the welfare of their mothers was concerned.

In 1947, Andy recalled they only marked three lambs to the score (15%) and more farms in the Langholm area changed hands in 1947 than didn't.

Times have moved on and we now have the ability to buy in hay more easily and supplement it with cake and feed blocks in order to give the ewes a better chance of rearing their lambs. But this comes at a cost and the old Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowance (HLCA) was there to help pay for this feed.

HLCA has given way to LFASS which used to be in our bank in February to see us through the winter. Well, where the hell is it? Never has there been a time when we would have been more grateful for it.

It seems the useless computer the Scottish Government are insistent on employing is unable to get this money to us on time. Some of us have had a letter giving us the opportunity to opt in to receiving a loan of 90% of our LFASS money, the letter had to be signed and returned to Scottish Government last Friday.

Two phone calls and a visit to my local area SGRPID office asking if my letter had got lost in the post revealed that not all letters had gone out yet and more will go out in early April, so goodness alone knows when this much needed subsidy will arrive. It seems daft that some were actually getting their payments before others had even got the chance to apply for them!

Another year will come and go with SGRPID's IT department in total disarray, isn't it about time someone stood up and took responsibility for the utter and total incompetence of their computer systems and give us an assurance that a solution is in sight – and, furthermore, apologise for the hardship being caused, especially during a winter of so much adversity?

Hamish Waugh

D and E Waugh and Son,