Deer farmers given hope in battle for support

Share this article
Have your say

A CHINK of light appeared this week in the lengthy battle by Scottish deer farmers to gain financial support for their sector.

Part of the £2 million promised to farmers not getting a single farm payment (SFP) by rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead could possibly be heading in their direction.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said yesterday that although the main focus for the £2m of support announced was for new entrants, “we will also look at the position of deer farmers”.

She added: “We have already arranged for officials to hold discussions with the New Entrants Panel and deer farming representatives to discuss how exactly the support can best be deployed.”

Scotland’s first commercial deer farmer and someone who has campaigned for more than two decades for equality in support for deer farming, John Fletcher, of Reediehill, Auchtermuchty, welcomed the news.

“Even if the likely pay-out will only be a fraction of what it might have been if deer farming had been included in the SFP scheme, it shows we have not been forgotten,” he said.

Making the announcement at the annual meeting of NFU Scotland, Lochhead said that no decision had been made as to how the money would be divided.

That would be up to the New Entrants working group he said. What is known is that the money will cover the next two years until the next CAP comes into being in 2015. However, the breakthrough in support for deer farmers does not seem to be backed up with inclusion in any future coupled support such as the beef and sheep sectors are likely to receive post 2015.

“It appears deer have been missed out in the species that can receive coupled support. I shall be raising this with the European Federation of Deer Farmers,” said Fletcher adding that somehow goats had been included.

Fletcher said that demand for both hinds and calves was as high as it had been for the past five years.