At the NFU we continue our lobbying work on school milk, which is important not only for our children’s nutrition but also because it can help to shape the consumption trends of the future. The NFU is part of the School and Nursery Milk Alliance (SNMA) and supported World School Milk Day in September with a #happycows #happykids campaign. We recently met with Defra to discuss the future of school milk in the UK.
The UK has participated in the existing EU school milk scheme since the 1970s, which has allowed children over the age of five to receive a subsidised portion of milk in school on a daily basis. From August 2017 a new EU scheme will succeed the previous, with an indicative allocation of around €10million for the UK annually. The NFU had lobbied the UK government to support the new scheme prior to the vote to leave the EU and were pleased that Defra had planned to participate and would have consulted on the implementation of the new scheme this autumn.
What happens now we have voted to leave the EU?
Defra Ministers have confirmed that they will participate in the new EU school milk scheme from August 2017, as we prepare to exit from the EU. How long we participate in the scheme will depend on the Brexit process but it is likely we will draw down funds for 2017-18, if not later years. Defra will now consult on the implementation of the scheme early next year.
What about after our exit?
Defra has confirmed that they intend to replace the EU school milk scheme with a domestic scheme following our exit from the EU. This allows us to start with a blank sheet of paper and Defra is open to ideas and suggestions about what this looks like, intending for the creation of the scheme to be a very consultative process.
In addition to the EU school milk scheme, the government funds a larger domestic scheme that provides free school milk to the under 5s at a cost of around £60 million a year.
The NFU will be consulting with members over the coming months about what they would like to see as part of a domestic school milk scheme. If you have any thoughts please send them to the Dairy Team.