Relax rules and free up grazing

NFU Scotland has asked the Scottish Government to consider relaxing the rules on some agri-environment projects to help free up grazing for Scotland’s struggling livestock.

The extended cold weather has stunted grass growth and fodder stocks are dwindling. The Union believes that allowing animals temporary access to graze areas covered by environmental schemes could offer some relief so now NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy and Regions, Jonnie Hall said: “The pressure on Scotland’s livestock is relentless and poor grass growth and fodder shortages are compounding the difficulties faced by many.

“While the Scottish Government’s Weather Aid package is expected to provide a shot in the arm for some facing the most severe physical and financial pressures, we all know it can only offer a partial solution at best to all the challenges of this winter. It will not assist those who are desperately short of grass right now, and we have to look at other avenues to relieve pressure.

“We think there is real scope in a temporary relaxing of the restrictions placed on grazing under a variety of existing agri-environment commitments. Against a backdrop of a lack of grass and growing feed bills, it would make practical and financial sense if otherwise ‘closed’ areas of forage could be utilised and grazed at this time. We appreciate that this might create some compliance and audit issues, but given the exceptional circumstances we feel that this must be worth pursuing.”