An MSP has called on the Scottish Government to extend a hardship fund for pig farmers.
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has written to Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon asking her to extend the Pig Producers Hardship Support Scheme.
The £715,000 scheme, which opened for applications in August, aims to help pig farmers affected by the temporary closure of the country’s main pig abattoir in Brechin earlier this year.
It provides financial support to pig farmers who supplied the Quality Pig Processors plant between February 8 and March 31, and were paid £15 less per pig by the abattoir during this period.
In her letter, Ms Martin has called for the scheme to be extended beyond the end of this month when all the initial payments are expected to be paid.
Speaking following a meeting with Mintlaw pig farmer Sandy Howie and representatives from farming union NFU Scotland, Ms Martin said: “While the funding has been welcomed, I wholeheartedly support the view of the industry that an extension to the hardship fund would offer vital assistance to farmers that would help mitigate the offset caused by the sustained drop in prices as a result of the events earlier in the year.”
In response, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “We have worked closely with the sector to make sure that this hardship fund provides affected farmers with adequate financial support for losses incurred through no fault of their own.
“To further aid the industry at such a crucial time the levy bodies in Scotland and England are providing the pig sector with a levy holiday for the whole of November.
“We continue to engage with the abattoir on a regular basis and we have provided advice and assistance on export licence relisting. While we are doing what we can to push for relisting, ultimately the decision to relist rests with the Chinese authorities.”