The UK government has launched a support package to dairy farmers in England who have been severely affected by Covid-19, in a move welcomed by much of the industry.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the new fund will enable dairy farmers in England to claim up to £10,000 each to cover 70% of their lost income during April and May. This will reportedly ensure that they can continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.
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.
However, the fund does not currently extend to dairy farmers in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and the National Farmers Union (NFU) has said that it will work with the devolved administrations to ensure that support reaches farmers in these countries.
The dairy industry is the UK’s largest agricultural sector, and dairy farmers in the country produce an estimated 40 million litres of milk every day.
UK environment secretary George 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 today 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.”
Last month, The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) called on the government to provide 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.
The association praised the introduction of this support package, but warned that further support measures may be needed if disruption continues throughout the year.
RABDF chairman Peter Alvis said: “We are thankful DEFRA has taken the dairy industry’s needs seriously and has produced a financial support package.
“We would like DEFRA to keep reviewing support measures for the industry as we are conscious that should our farmers continue to be impacted for an extended period, we will need the government to act quickly and look at some additional support.”
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