Support package for dairy industry hit by COVID-19

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A support package to help English dairy farmers hit by an economic storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been announced by government. It follows considerable NFU and industry-wide campaigning for urgent help for the dairy sector.

The financial support comes after the almost complete closure of food service and hospitality outlets, resulting in the loss of a market for around 8 million litres of milk every week. This has affected more than three quarters of all dairy farmers through drops in milk price or delayed payments.

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NFU President Minette Batters said: “Thankfully, the Secretary of State has heard our calls for help and is stepping in to prevent a catastrophe for the dairy sector. This package of support from Defra will help many iconic dairy farming businesses facing an uncertain future as a result of the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. We know that the dairy sector is just one of many sectors that have been affected by Coronavirus, but we appreciate the hard work Defra has put in to secure this much-needed financial support for many dairy farming families who face losing their businesses.”

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NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said: “The NFU alongside other industry representatives have worked relentlessly over the past few weeks to ensure support reaches those hard-working dairy farmers facing immediate financial hardship due to the effects of market volatility.

“While this support package will be helpful for those farmers who are currently under considerable financial strain, we believe a combination of measures are needed in order to stabilise the industry’s viability for the medium and long term. Dairy farmers need much better contractual protection than they currently enjoy and that needs to be examined by government as a matter of urgency once we move to the recovery phase of the current crisis.

“We are also concerned that the fund covers England only, but will work with the devolved administrations to ensure that support reaches all farmers affected.”

Notes to editors:

  1. More than 2,370 letters have been written to 400 MPs as part of an NFU campaign calling for urgent help for the UK’s dairy industry. The online ‘Write to your MP’ campaigning tool can be found here.

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