Government launches hardship fund for dairy farmers

11 May 2020, 09:51 AM
  • With the UK's dairy industry one of the most hard hit during COVID-19, the Government's recent announcement to support farmers during this difficult time is welcome news
Government launches hardship fund for dairy farmers

Ministers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced a new scheme that aims to help the industry weather the coronavirus storm.

The fund will provide vital support to English dairy farmers, who can apply for up to £10,000 in cash payments.

Under the new scheme, producers could receive 70% of their income back to allow them to continue operating and sustain their production without impacting animal welfare. However, to access the funding, farmers will have to prove that they’ve lost more than one-quarter of their income in April and May.

Shortly after the Government announcement, Wales’ Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, revealed the same funding for Welsh dairy farmers as part of efforts to “support those farms hardest hit by a situation which is primarily outside of their control”.

Following the Government’s lockdown measures, which came into effect in March, the hospitality sector all but ceased operation, meaning many dairy farmers lost a large chunk of their business overnight. Producing nearly 40 million litres of milk each day, dairy farmers have had to discard perfectly good milk as it had nowhere to go. Whilst some were able to redirect supplies from restaurants and cafes to supermarkets, it still saw a drastic fall in demand, and therefore a fall in prices.

The new fund follows the Government’s previous step to relax competition laws, whilst an ongoing £1m advertising campaign hopes to persuade Brits to drink more milk at home in an effort to further support the industry and consume surplus stock.

“This announcement is great news and much needed for dairy farmers who have been left to struggle, in an extremely vulnerable position, because of the impact of COVID-19 on the marketplace,” Richard Corbett, partner with land and estate agent Roger Parry & Partners, said.

“Eligible dairy farmers, who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions, will be eligible to access this funding for those qualifying months, with no cap set on the number of farmers who can receive this support. More detail on how to apply for the fund will be issued in due course.”

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