A new fund to enable eligible dairy farmers in England to access up to £10,000 each to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The hardship fund, announced by Environment Secretary George Eustice this week, will help support those dairy farmers who have lost significant business following the closure of bars, restaurants and cafes in recent weeks.
The new funding will help support dairy farmers, who together continue to produce more than 40 million litres of milk daily and who have seen decreased demand for their products due to the closure of bars, restaurants and cafes during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25 per cent 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 or on the total funding available.
The announcement is the latest action from the government to support dairy farmers, building on the unprecedented levels of support already announced by the Chancellor and also the temporary relaxation of some elements of UK competition law to allow suppliers, retailers and logistics providers in the dairy industry to work more closely together on some of the challenges they are facing.
With some dairy farmers facing financial difficulties and excess milk, the new fund will provide support for those most in need. Eligible dairy farmers will be entitled to up to £10,000 each, to cover 70 per cent of their lost income during April and May to ensure they can continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.
Mr Eustice said: “Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and we are doing all we can to ensure they are properly supported during this time.
“We’ve already relaxed competition laws so dairy farmers can work together through the toughest months, but recognise there is more to be done. That is why we have kick started a new campaign to boost milk consumption and have announced a further package of funding. We will continue to stand alongside our dairy farmers through this difficult period.
“The dairy sector is the UK’s largest farming sector, with milk accounting for 16.85% of total agricultural output in the UK in 2018. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the dairy industry has faced challenges of excess milk, falling prices, and reduced demand from the hospitality sector.
“While many farmers have already rerouted their milk supplies to retailers and supermarkets – which have seen increased demand in recent weeks – this move will give the farmers in the greatest need the financial assurance to ensure they can remain operational, sustain production capacity and continue to meet animal welfare demands at this time.”