UK government provides funding to support dairy farmers through coronavirus

The UK government has announced new funding to support dairy farmers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

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% of their lost income during April and May to ensure they can continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare. There is no cap set on the number of farmers who can receive this support or on the total funding available.

This announcement is the latest action from the government to support dairy farmers, building on its recent decision to temporarily relax 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.

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”.

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 – the government’s new move will give the farmers in the greatest need the financial assurance to ensure they remain operational, sustain production capacity and continue to meet animal welfare demands.

In addition to this, the government has backed the £1 million campaign launched by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) to increase consumption of milk in UK households, funded jointly by the AHDB, Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive and Dairy UK.

Christine Watts, AHDB’s chief marketing officer, said: “This new innovative marketing campaign is a fantastic demonstration of what can be achieved when industry and Government join together to meet a common supply chain challenge.

“It will support dairy farmers and processors in driving demand for milk within households across the UK. It will link consumers’ love of the great taste of milk and dairy with how we are all having to manage these challenging times at home and at work.”

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