Smith Seeks Emergency EU Aid For Sheep Sector

16 April 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has written to EU Budgets Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski seeking access to some of the 200 million euro EU emergency fund on behalf of Scotland's sheep farmers.
The fund exists under the EU's "Flexibility Instrument" and as such stands alone from any other EU budget, and is available at relatively short notice for areas or industries suffering unexpected difficulty.

The fund has previously been accessed to provide emergency aid to Latvian textile manufacturers and German car manufacturers, and to aid regions hit by earthquakes and forest fires.  Use of the Flexibility Instrument is rare.
 
Smith has made a plea on behalf of Scotland's sheep sector following the particularly harsh winter, the impact of which on the sector is only now becoming apparent as snows recede nationwide.
 
Smith said:
 
"The winter was harsh for everyone, and to be sure there are plenty other sectors of Scots agriculture that have been suffering, but I think the case for emergency aid for the sheep sector is clear given the real, unexpected and severe impact the winter has had on stock.
 
"It is all the more heartbreaking that the winter comes as prices were showing signs of improvement, but with the industry already struggling to cope with the introduction of EID agreed to by the previous Lib Dem/Labour administration the sheep boys need all the help they can get to rebuild from the elements.
 
"The Flexibility Instrument will need to be accessed via a request from the UK Minister, given Scotland cannot as yet speak directly with the EU.  However, with Whitehall paralysed I'm not going to hang about, and have raised this with the Commissioner myself, and we can sketch in the details of the application later.

"I would put an initial estimate of the sums we'll need at around the 10 million sterling mark, and would hope that the funds, if we can access them, will be available sooner rather than later.  And even if we are turned down, at least we're trying, and I'll knock on every door I can to access assistance for Scotland's farmers."