Government expected to unveil hardship fund for dairy farmers

The overnight loss of food service, hospitality and catering outlets as a result of the coronavirus control restrictions has had ramifications for the dairy sector
The overnight loss of food service, hospitality and catering outlets as a result of the coronavirus control restrictions has had ramifications for the dairy sector

Government officials are reportedly considering a hardship fund for dairy farmers severely affected by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

The fund could take the form of a targeted time-limited payment for impacted farming businesses, a report by BBC News said.

Farmers produce over 40m litres of milk every day, but decreased demand from the foodservice sector and reduced collections has caused significant disruption.

The outbreak has seen the almost complete loss of the hospitality markets, as well as increasing price volatility in global markets.



This has led to some dairy farmers with no other option but to dispose of milk on farm.

According to Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the funding package could cost in the region of £10m to £20m.



He told the broadcaster: "I don't want to see tens of thousands of cows slaughtered unnecessarily due to coronavirus."

Defra Secretary George Eustice will discuss the hardship fund proposal with MPs and trade representatives this week.

His department has already temporarily relaxed competition to allow the dairy industry to address current market challenges posed by Covid-19, but farmers said this was not sufficient enough.

A Defra spokesperson said: "We have already relaxed competition laws to allow the dairy industry to reroute surplus milk and adapt to changes in the supply chain.

"We also welcome the initiative from milk suppliers and their farmers to temporarily reduce the amounts they are producing, through a range of options, so that when the demand returns it can be met by our dairy farmers.

"We will continue to work with the industry to understand the potential impacts on farmers and also urge them to access the existing package of government financial support available."