The Panel held its first meeting this week (5 December 2017) and formally agreed its remit and membership.
It heard an update from the Met Office on the weather conditions experienced in Scotland over recent months and the forward outlook.
The Panel noted that the general outlook for Scotland suggested for the rest of December and into the early part of January there will be a mixture of colder, drier periods with overnight frosts and shorter lived milder, wetter and windier interludes. Snow is likely at times, especially in the North.
The Panel requested further updates at future meetings, to include additional information about regional conditions and trend analysis where data permits.
The Panel discussed in detail a range of current and longer term weather impacts and issues. In particular, the Panel:
- discussed current issues around feed and agreed that this should be the focus for its next meeting, scheduled for January
- noted the action the Scottish Government and SEPA had taken in relation to slurry spreading and continuing dialogue with affected businesses
- noted action already in hand to promote alternatives to straw, share industry best practice and to raise awareness of the opportunities presented by new technology to address issues around slurry production and nitrates; and agreed to explore what more the Scottish Government, SEPA, industry and other groups could do to promote such initiatives nationally and regionally
- agreed that additional actions should be considered to encourage effective business planning, including feed reviews/budgeting, to support resilience in the face of weather impacts and related market conditions
- agreed to further discuss what financial mechanisms might be appropriate in the long term to support weather resilience; and
- noted that impacts on agricultural business resulting from weather events can have an adverse effect on human health, and there had been an increase in the level of interest in the support services that are available, as well as noting the potential impact of weather events on animal health