The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has called on the UK Government to provide financial support to dairy farmers affected by Covid-19, claiming that failure to offer aid could lead to “widespread dairy disruption”.
The plea from the RABDF follows on from a similar call from the Wisconsin Dairy Alliance (WDA) in the US earlier this week. The WDA stated that many US dairy farmers have resorted to “dumping milk” due to reduced demand, and this behaviour is being replicated in the UK.
The RABDF has requested that the Government offers a short-term financial support scheme to dairy farmers who are having to dispose of their milk or are receiving significantly reduced value as a result of reduced demand from the foodservice sector.
If support is not provided, the RABDF claims that the dairy and wider agricultural supply chain will suffer major disruption, running the risk of undersupply later this year.
According to estimates from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Kantar Worldpanel, 8 million litres of milk is supplied to the UK’s foodservice sector per week, and this has been significantly disrupted by restaurant closures across the country due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The RABDF states that 300 dairy farmers will be eligible for reimbursement if its proposed support scheme is approved.
The proposed support scheme would be introduced by the end of April, but will only be available to dairy farmers supplying a processor who can evidence their marketplace has been affected solely from the impact of Covid-19. It will not be available to farmers who are still being fully paid or covered by insurance.
Peter Alvis, chairman of the RABDF, 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.
“It will also allow those affected dairy farmers to continue to pay for invoices for farm inputs to the wider local/rural supply industry beyond the farmgate and will prevent extra cows being culled which will exacerbate the problems in the beef supply chain.”
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