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McArthur calls on funding support for Orkney’s farmers

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has called for extra support to be given to farmers, to help with the financial strain caused by the large numbers of greylag geese in the county.

Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur, has pressed the Scottish Government to help with additional support for farmers in Orkney to help address the affects of the large and growing numbers of resident Greylag Geese.

Many farmers in Orkney have been impacted financially by the delay to geese management control measures due to COVID-19.

During Portfolio Questions yesterday, Mr McArthur highlighted how the pandemic has prevented measures being taken earlier in the year to help curb the resident Greylag population, forcing local farmers to spend even more time and resources in an attempt to keep numbers under control.

He pressed the minister for rural affairs, Mairi Gougeon to consider re-allocating funds that would have been used by Scottish Natural Heritage to carry out geese management measures in March and April to now help cover increased costs faced by farmers instead.

In response, Ms Gougeon confirmed that there is potential to look at this type of support if the goose control is done through the Cooperative Adaptive Management scheme and observes all relevant protocols. The minister has agreed to look at Mr McArthur’s suggestion and highlighted that the government is looking at a range of ways to offer support to farmers.

Following the exchange, Mr McArthur said: “The COVID-19 outbreak has forced various initiatives planned by SNH and the Orkney Greylag Goose Management group to be put on hold. As a result, local farmers have been faced with having to spend more time and resources trying to keep resident greylag geese numbers under control.

“I know from seeing first-hand the impact that greylag geese can have on crops and farmland. Over recent years, as the resident Greylag population has increased, so too has the damage and the cost of trying to address the problem. 

“It would seem sensible, therefore, to use any funding earmarked for the earlier control measures to help reduce the financial burden on farmers having to take steps themselves. This could include contributing to the cost of cartridges, but there may be other options available.

“I’m pleased that the minister responded positively to this suggestion and agree to explore the options for providing such support, as well as wider efforts to bring Orkney’s resident Greylag goose population down to more sustainable levels.”

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