Dairy farmers hit by lockdown milk demand slump are each offered £10,000 lifeline

Dairy farmers have been offered £10,000 of government support to mitigate the slump in milk demand d

Dairy farmers have been offered £10,000 of government support to mitigate the slump in milk demand during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Dairy farmers struggling to sell their milk during the coronavirus lockdown will each be able to access up to £10,000 of financial support, the government has announced.

The move comes after calls from farming leaders to help the sector, which has faced a slump in demand for milk from restaurants, cafes and hotels.

It has forced farmers in some parts of the country to pour away milk and has put businesses at risk of folding.

Many farmers have already rerouted milk supplies to retailers and supermarkets to meet increased demand in recent weeks from households.

The government said the fund will help those struggling most.

Farmers in England who have lost more than 25pc of their income during April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible for the support, said Defra.

They will be able to claim up to £10,000 to cover 70pc of lost income during those months to ensure they can continue to operate and maintain production capacity without harming animal welfare.

A £1m campaign to get UK households drinking more milk, funded jointly by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Dairy UK and the government has also been launched.

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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.”

READ MORE: Farming leader quits top East Anglia role to start a new life in FranceHe added: “We will continue to stand alongside our dairy farmers through this difficult period.”

Michael Oakes, dairy board chairman for the National Farmers’ Union, said: “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.”