The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has called on the UK government to help fund a short-term financial support scheme for dairy farmers whose businesses have been severely affected as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in order to avert a wider crisis in the industry.
The association put forward plans on Wednesday (7 April) asking the government to reimburse dairy farmers who are receiving a significantly reduced value or are having to dispose of their milk as a result of their processor being heavily reliant on the foodservice sector.
It is thought about 300 dairy farmers will be eligible for reimbursement if the scheme is approved, equating to about one million litres of milk being produced a day.
Failure to protect those farmers could result in disruption to the wider dairy and agricultural industry along with an undersupplied market later in the year, warned Peter Alvis, Chairman of RABDF.
He said that this scheme will “ensure both short-term and longer-term food security and ease the stress on the industry.”
“Removing the excess distressed milk from the market place will help to stabilise the current spot price without causing long-term market distortion.”
“It will also allow those affected dairy farmers to continue to pay for invoices for farm inputs to the wider local/rural supply industry beyond the farmgate and will prevent extra cows being culled which will exacerbate the problems in the beef supply chain,” he added.
The support will only be available to dairy farmers supplying a processor who can evidence their marketplace has been affected solely from the impact of Covid19. It will not be available to farmers who are still being fully paid or covered by insurance.
If the scheme is approved, the RABDF hopes the system for making claims, which is still in process, will be up and running by the end of April, meaning farmers will still receive their April milk cheque due in the second week in May.
The plan is to ensure those dairy farmers affected remain in business and can return to supplying the food service sector when social distancing measures are eased.