CUMBRIAN MP GROUP CALL ON DEFRA SUPPORT FOR LIVESTOCK FARMERS

Following the recent severe and unseasonal cold spell which has left many Cumbrian farmers dealing with the loss of large numbers of livestock, a group of Cumbrian MPs has written a joint letter to Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson asking for Government support to help farmers meet the costs of fallen stock collections in the form of a specific fund that will support the costs of dead livestock disposal. MPs Rory Stewart, Tim Farron, John Stevenson and Tony Cunningham are leading the cross-party call for support.

The high levels of sudden snowfall have buried hundreds of sheep on the fells, and the full scale of the disaster will not be known until more significant thawing takes place. Farmers now face high costs in dealing with the disposal of these animals which could stretch into thousands of pounds, unless Government is willing to provide financial support. Both the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies have already offered to provide farmers additional support.

Rory said: “For many Cumbrian farmers the last 20 months have been unbelievably difficult. My fear now is that this severe snowfall, which has seen hundreds of sheep lost to exposure, will leave our farmers facing a bill of hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds and could lead to the collapse of many small farming businesses. I was extremely proud to work closely with Cumbrian farmers and Government ministers to secure at speed the necessary derogation that allowed deliveries of livestock feed to many farms in real need following the adverse weather conditions. What is so important now, is that we are able to work together to provide further on-going support that will allow Cumbrian farms to come through this, and start to rebuild their flocks.”

Tim Farron said: “The weather across the North and North West England has been completely devastating for many farmers with hundreds of sheep lost as they’ve been buried under snow and what should be an enjoyable lambing season threatened with complete destruction. In Scotland they have found a way to provide extra financial support to Scottish farmers and the Welsh Government are already looking into making an offer to Welsh farmers to it is absolutely right that the UK Government should look to offer financial support to English farmers. The risk we face now is the potential of income losses and increased costs as a result of the weather creating a situation that could threaten the existence of our farming industry in the North West so it is absolutely vital that we find a way to ensure the continued existence of our English farms through this difficult period.”

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