Alec Ross

FARM businesses in Scotland are being urged to plan for possible water shortages this summer, with some parts of the country already recording low river levels and dry ground conditions.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has published the first water scarcity report of 2023, which shows parts of western, central and northern Scotland have reached the Early Warning level for water scarcity. It follows mixed conditions over the last six months, with winter drier than average across most of the country, in contrast to a mostly wet autumn.

Sarah Cowie, environmental resources policy manager at National Farmers Union Scotland, said: “Water is a vital resource for the agricultural sector, and we cannot produce food without a consistent and plentiful supply.

"Last year, SEPA suspended abstraction licences for some growers for the first time. This response highlights the impacts of a changing climate and shows the pressures it can bring on farm businesses.

"NFUS encourages all farmers and growers to think about on-farm water usage as early as possible, to ensure businesses can remain resilient throughout the year”.


On Monday, 49 bullocks sold at St Boswells averaged 298p/kg and sold to 333p/kg, while 51 heifers averaged 307p/kg and sold to 346p/kg. 62 cast cows averaged 226p/kg and sold to 297p/kg or a top price of £2,392. 1,378 hoggs were 12p/head down on the week, averaging £140/head and selling to £184/head for Beltexes, while 322 cast sheep averaged £106/head and sold to £165 for a Suffolk.

Prime heifers at Carlisle yesterday dropped 23p/head on the week to average 276p/kg and sell to a top price of 328p/kg. 24 prime bollocks fared better, dropping only slightly on the week to average 279p/kg and sell to 319p/kg.

Young bulls held up well to average of 245p/kg, 2p up on the week, as did cast cows which averaged 212p/kg and 177p/kg for beef and dairy types respectively. Prime lambs met with strong demand, averaging 342p/kg, up 13p on the week, and selling to 455p/kg, while prime hoggs rose 5p on the week to achieve an overall average of 297p/kg.

24 prime beef heifers at Lanark yesterday were largely unchanged on the week at an average of 301p/kg, while cast beef and dairy cows held their position at 204p/kg and 172p/kg respectively. 2,558 prime hoggs fell by 18p on the week to average 278p/kg (281p/kg SQQ) and sell to 332p/kg. Meanwhile, 1036 cast ewes averaged £100/head, a fall of £2 on the week, with a top price of £214 for a Texel.

A mixed show of 1,435 prime hoggets sold well at Ayr yesterday, with fleshier types dearer on the week.

A pen of Beltexes from Drumburle sold to £181/head or 393p/kg from the same pen, before the sale averaged 288p/kg and 290p/kg SQQ.

Meanwhile, Ian Fisher, Merrick Farm peaked at £290/head for Beltex tups while his females topped at £205 for Texels. Scotch Mules from Blairbowie sold to £148, while Blackface ewes sold to £122 for Drumclog.