Coronavirus -Support for Dairy Farming

Thank you for contacting me about support for dairy farmers.

Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and I know this is a difficult time for the sector, particularly for suppliers of the food service trade. As demands shifts, we need to ensure that individual farmers are protected. I have made Ministers aware of the concerns you raise.

It is welcome that eligible dairy farmers in England will be able to access up to £10,000 each to cover 70 per cent of their lost income during April and May. This will help farmers continue to operate and sustain production capacity without any impacts on animal welfare.

Having looked into this, I understand that between 5 and 10 per cent of total milk production goes to the food service trade and there is therefore a small proportion of milk production that currently has no home. I am pleased that some elements of competition law have been relaxed to make it easier for processors to come together to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency until shops, restaurants and pubs are able to open again. 

It is welcome that the dairy industry can access various Government backed loan schemes. The COVID-19 Business Interruption Loans scheme is available to farmers, milk buyers and milk processors. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme, which will apply to businesses including those operating in agriculture, will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans.

Finally, I am also aware that the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, together with Dairy UK, are launching a new £1 million campaign to drive consumption of milk and other dairy products. It is encouraging that the Government is working very closely with the NFU, the dairy industry and others to understand the difficulties in the supply chain and to ensure that farmers are supported through this difficult period.