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Highland farmers crack on with crops

By Tom Ramage

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Arable farmers are cracking on with the job of producing the crops that the nation needs for food, drink and animal feed.

Meeting by videoconference, the National Farmers Union’s combinable crops committee has issued a "positive and determined"message to reassure consumers and the marketplace that they are getting on with things in the face of challenging weather, Covid-19 and Brexit uncertainties.

Committee chairman Willie Thomson said: “Arable farmers are always exposed to the vagaries of the weather in Scotland but the good news is that all crops for harvest this autumn have now been planted and a bit more of the recent rain will give newly-sown crops the kick-start they need.

Farmer Willie Thomson
Farmer Willie Thomson

“Getting crops in the ground has been a challenge but we are there now.

"The weather has flipped from being too wet through the autumn and winter to too dry this spring.

"But we have adapted, higher costs around preparing the ground and seed beds have been taken on and cropping plans have been changed.”

Committee discussions this week also reflected on the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, discussing the need for distilling and brewing sectors to be fully operational again as soon as is safely possible.

The need for individual farm businesses to plan ahead as best they can on issues like grain storage were also high on the agenda, as were the potential implications of the UK Government’s new Global tariff schedule announced this week on the cereal sector.

Mr Thomson added: “In response to Covid-19, growers and processors have all worked hard to adhere to the requirements of social distancing to keep themselves and workers as safe as possible.

"There has also been a constant dialogue with Scottish Government and all key stakeholders throughout lockdown on what is needed as we enter the recovery phase.

“Like everyone else, we are all looking forward to a return to more normal business to allow the growing season and harvest, likely to commence in late July, to proceed without disruption.

“Beyond that, the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020 will bring new challenges, as will climate change.The sector remains forward looking and, with appropriate support from Government, will continue to meet market demand and fulfil our responsibilities on climate change and the environment.”

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