The NFU has welcomed news that Defra has extended the application deadline to midnight on Friday 11 September 2020 giving farmers yet to be paid the chance to apply.
The Dairy Response Fund was set up by Defra at the start of the coronavirus outbreak to help dairy farmers facing challenges of excess milk, falling prices, and reduced demand from the hospitality sector as bars, restaurants and cafes closed.
The scheme has been making payments since early July, but with some having only recently received their May milk cheques, the deadline for applications has been extended from 14 August 2020 to 11 September 2020. Many dairy farmers have been unable to access support through the scheme and the NFU has raised concerns over the eligibility criteria.
NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said:
“Defra’s decision to extend the deadline for applications to the Dairy Response Fund is welcome. The scheme has provided crucial support during the past few months where the impact of COVID-19 has seen milk prices fall dramatically for those affected.
“The NFU still has major concerns about the delivery of the scheme. We receive complaints on an almost daily basis from NFU members who have been rejected from the scheme despite some of them losing up to 50% of their income selling milk to milk buyers in the food service sector.
“Defra needs to reconsider the eligibility criteria of the Dairy Response Fund to ensure these farmers can access the support they urgently need.”
More from the NFU's dairy team:
- Dairy Response Fund - member Q&A
- Dairy contracts consultation: All you need to know
- Read the latest blog from dairy board chairman Michael Oakes
- Webinar held to spell out importance of dairy contracts consultation
- Watch again: Dairy contracts consultation - why it matters