Appeals for urgent government action to save the dairy industry have been backed by the entire supply chain, including UK farming unions, RABDF, Dairy UK and the Provision Trade Federation.
The group has written to the Defra Secretary of State George Eustice to reiterate its support for the proposals put forward by the NFU to protect dairy farm businesses from irreversible damage:
- A targeted grant scheme for affected farmers that is similar to the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme;
- A fully funded, government run voluntary national production reduction scheme; which effectively furloughs dairy cows.
- Engagement with the EU Commission to introduce market support measures, such as Private Storage Aid.
In the letter, they write: “The situation is continuing to escalate rapidly with serious financial consequences for many individual businesses. There are farmers unable to pay their feed companies and having to sell cows. There are dairy companies that, having lost all of their key markets, still have to deal with the milk and find a home for it in an oversupplied marketplace.
“These may have been isolated impacts to start with, but we know that already around a quarter of the dairy industry has been affected within just a matter of weeks.
“It is important to reiterate that only a matter of weeks ago, all of this milk had a good home, and hopefully in a few months’ time, those markets will return. The British dairy sector wants to be there to meet that demand, so it is crucial that the industry is not irreversibly damaged by this crisis.
“We need action now, as well as a more considered response for the medium and longer-term measures. We cannot over-emphasise the urgency of the current situation. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, as government is already demonstrating elsewhere. We believe now is the time to do all we can to ensure the long-term sustainability of the UK dairy sector.”
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of the food service sector, dairy farmers are in crisis and facing severe financial pressure.