09 April 2020, 14:47 PM
  • The NFU and RABDF have called on the Government to support farmers and processors affected by the coronavirus outbreak
Dairy industry needs support, say industry bodies

Industry associations representing the farming and dairy sectors have called on the Government to take urgent action to ensure the survival of dairy farming businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. Many dairy farmers and processors are not eligible for the Government schemes put in place to help UK businesses at this time. The drop in demand from cafes and restaurants due to the outbreak and lockdown guidelines has left farmers and processors under increased pressure, with some farmers having to dispose of milk on farms.

NFU President Minette Batters has called on Defra Secretary of State, George Eustice, to take immediate steps to ensure the sustainability of the sector, including those in the agricultural sector to have access to the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme or one similar.

President Batters said, “Only four weeks ago all of this milk was being used, losing businesses at this stage will leave consumers reliant on convenience stores and other difficult to reach outlets not being able to have access to the same supply of milk.

“We believe there may be at least 2,000 dairy farmers suffering severe financial pressure and that number is growing by the day as a result of the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak and as things develop very few dairy businesses will be left unaffected. We need to move fast to mitigate the impacts of this unfolding crisis on dairy farming businesses across the country.”

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes added; “A key issue is that dairy farmers or processors largely cannot access the Treasury schemes designed to help businesses through this crisis. We cannot furlough staff or stop milking cows, and things like business rate holidays don’t apply to us. We need Defra and the Treasury to work together to extend these schemes so that they can be utilised by everyone in the dairy sector.”

This call for government support comes as The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) seeks funding for a short-term financial support scheme for dairy farmers whose businesses have been severely impacted.

The aim of the proposed scheme is for the Government to reimburse dairy farmers who are receiving a significantly reduced value or are having to dispose of milk. It’s estimated around 300 dairy farmers could benefit.ter Alvis, Chairman of RABDF.

Chairman Peter Alvis said, “This scheme will ensure both short-term and longer-term food security and ease the stress on the industry. Removing the excess distressed milk from the market place will help to stabilise the current spot price without causing long-term market distortion.”

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