Scotland’s crofters are facing a crisis because the mediocre summer is putting cows off sex, industry leaders have said.
The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) warned the Scottish Government of the “plight” of crofters’ livestock due to the lack of grazing and asked for emergency payments.
The SCF said crofters in the Highlands and Islands are being hard hit by severe weather and low temperatures.
Skinny cows, having lost weight over the winter and deprived of fattening summer grass, are not coming into season “bulling” and bulls cannot be put out to “run” with them.
Any grass there is has a low sugar content due to lack of sunlight, compounding the crisis by leading to low weight gains among beef cattle that should be fattening now for the table.
The SCF has written to Agriculture Secretary Richard Lochhead, bringing the situation to his attention and asking for emergency payments to be made before it is too late.
Joyce Wilkinson, a director of the SCF and a crofter herself, said: “Those of us who live on the west coast and islands are now reaching breaking point with the extreme weather conditions.
“I know of many crofters and farmers who cannot get their cattle out due to no growth in the grass and extreme weather. Hay and straw are running out and many cannot afford to get in another load.
“Bulls can’t be put out with cows and the cows, having lost so much weight if they were out this winter, are not bulling.”
She added: “Tourism is suffering too due to weather conditions, so there is no money coming in from that to buy the extra hay and feed necessary.
“Everywhere I go I see and hear of near crisis conditions. We brought it up with Government officials and were told that the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) rebate was to be paid this week and that could be considered an emergency payment to help with the crisis.
“But the rebate is based on a percentage of the producer’s claim, excluding the first £2,000, which of course means some small producers will receive very low payments, if any.”