Dairy farmers in England can apply for cash payments up to £10,000 as part of a hardship fund created by the Government to support the industry during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The support scheme will also cover 70% of income that producers may have lost during April and May, and Ministers had also previously relaxed competition laws for the industry.
This comes after a number of industry bodies, namely the National Farmers Union (NFU), called for the Government to do more for the industry, after a drop in demand for dairy products following the effect of the virus on the hospitality sector.
Many farmers and producers had been forced to pour away thousands of litres for milk due to the shortage in demand, resulting in n the loss of a market for around 8 million litres of milk every week, according to the NFU.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and we are doing all we can to ensure they are properly supported during this time.
“We’ve already relaxed competition laws so dairy farmers can work together through the toughest months, but recognise there is more to be done. That is why today we have kick started a new campaign to boost milk consumption and have announced a further package of funding.
“We will continue to stand alongside our dairy farmers through this difficult period.”
“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.”
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.”
The move also comes after the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) launched a £1 million promotional campaign to support the dairy industry.
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.”