UK - Orkney, along with Shetland, the north of Scotland and the western parts of the country have struggled with persistent rain and wind since the spring, leaving farmers short of fodder and bedding and forced into making low quality silage for the winter.
NFU Scotland Vice President Rob Livesey has met with producers on Orkney to see first-hand the damage that the poor weather has wreaked on the island’s farmers.
Some additional straw supplies, donated by Gill & Co from Easter Ross, will arrive on the island this week and will be auctioned – with proceeds going to the rural charity RSABI.
Representatives of the Union and Orkney farmers have also held discussions with Scottish Government and others on the problems being caused around the country by the poor weather.
Mr Livesey, who attended Dounby Agricultural Show last week said: “Members in Orkney are suffering some of the most challenging weather conditions that many can remember. They, along with many other parts of Scotland, have endured an exceptionally wet and stormy winter followed by a cold wet spring and now a very poor wet summer.
“Stock have had to be kept indoors – at a substantial additional cost – and making silage to feed to livestock in the coming winter has been a tortuous process. Machinery has been damaging the soft ground and the quality of silage being produced is likely to be of poor quality.
"While harvest remains some time away, the incessant cold and wet means that barley yields will be low and supplies of straw for bedding cattle will be a real problem.
“Some have taken early decisions to sell stock or buy straw now to avert compounding an already challenging year. Others are sitting tight in the hope that the situation will change in the next few weeks as sales of store lambs and calves start.
“Farmers on Orkney are acutely aware that they are not alone and other areas such as Shetland, Caithness, the North West and West coast are experiencing similar weather issues.
“The challenge for us as a Union is to identify ways in which we can make a difference and help all those hit through these very challenging times. Scottish Government are aware of the issues, as are other supporting organisations."
Secretary in the NFU Scotland Kirkwall Office, Kenny Slater added: “As is their nature, the farming community is rallying round.
"We have had the offer of some winter barley straw, free for collection from Gill & Co in Easter Ross which we are planning to bring to the island and auction with any surplus going to RSABI.
"Orkney Business Ring has helped organise local contractors Brian and Caroline Matheson of Ballicherry to carry out the baling at a discounted rate and 90 big square bales are ready for uplift. The Business Ring has also organised the haulage, with Orkney Auction Mart receiving the straw and carrying out the auction at next Monday’s sale.
Mr Slater added: “The cost of getting this shipment to Orkney has underlined the huge impact transport costs will have on keeping the farming community running this autumn and winter.
"If Scottish Government wanted to make a difference to our plight, assistance with the high cost of haulage would help farmers to purchase the commodities they badly need.”
TheCattleSite News Desk
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