Up to £250,000 will be available to reimburse farmers for the cost of removing sheep killed in freak snow in England last month, Farming Minister, David Heath announced on 18 April 2013.
Details of the eligibility criteria, funding levels and information on how to apply were published on the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) website on 15 May 2013.
The NFSCo will administer the subsidy scheme, which is open both to farmers who are members of the National Fallen Stock Company, and to non-members. Defra has worked closely with the National Farmers Union (NFU), NFSCo and the Met Office to finalise the scheme.
This is the latest move in a programme of support to help farmers affected by recent snow. Defra has already permitted farmers to bury or burn livestock onsite if snow makes it difficult to get them to a collection vehicle, and has relaxed rules on driver hours to allow extra time for essential deliveries of animal feed.
Farming Minister, David Heath said:
As I saw on my recent visit to Cumbria, the loss of sheep in recent snow has taken a terrible emotional and financial toll on farmers. We have been working with the National Fallen Stock Company to find the fairest way to help them meet the cost of removing their stock. I’m pleased to be able to announce this support today and call upon the public to lend their own support to our farmers by choosing British lamb.
NFU Deputy President, Meurig Raymond said:
This very welcome move by Defra will come as a huge relief to those farming families who have struggled with the worst spring snow in living memory and have since faced the very specific problem of the cost of removal of large numbers of dead animals. The NFU will now continue to work very closely with the government on the detail of exactly how this money will be distributed.
Defra has already worked with the National Fallen Stock Company to encourage collectors to offer discounted rates for removing more than ten sheep at a time. Farmers will be reimbursed in line with this discounted rate for the sheep they have paid to remove. Defra will now work with the NFU and other farming representatives to finalise the scheme.
In May, Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson will host a meeting of farming sector representatives, farming charities and banks to highlight the financial impact that exceptional weather is having on farm businesses and to see what more can be done to support farmers who are struggling financially.
Natural England has taken steps to help farmers deal with the severe weather by temporarily lifting some of the land management requirements that normally apply to Environmental Stewardship agreements, so that farmers and growers have more flexibility to deal with the impact of the recent extreme and unseasonable weather.