Government considers Hardship Payments for UK dairy farmers

Posted on 28 Apr 2020
Government considers Hardship Payments for UK dairy farmers

One in three UK dairy farmers have found their supply chain severely impacted by coronavirus. Following some 1,800 urgent requests to local MPs from farmers across the UK, the government is now expected to discuss the possibility of a support package later this week. Officials say that this is likely to come in the form of a hardship fund, which could take the form of a targeted time-limited payment for farmers significantly impacted.

The impact of Covid-19 on dairy farming for hospitality

The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on the dairy farming industry, with farmers supplying to hospitality sectors the most severely impacted after restaurants, cafés and hotels were forced close at the end of March. This has left some farmers with no other option than to dispose of thousands of litres of milk on site.

According to MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the funding package could cost between £10m-£20m, and said: "I don't want to see tens of thousands of cows slaughtered unnecessarily due to coronavirus."

The chair of Welsh Affairs, Stephen Crabb, added: “The issue of slaughter has been raised by local farmers. It doesn't appear that it's likely to happen tomorrow but could, if the right action isn't taken, be a longer-term consequence."

Relaxed competition laws

Earlier this month, Defra responded to increasing concerns for the dairy sector by confirming that the government would relax certain elements of UK competition law. This would allow dairy farmers to adapt more quickly to changes in the supply chain. It would also allow collaboration between dairy farmers and producers to prevent surplus milk going to waste.

Defra secretary, George Eustice, said: “Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding the nation and it is essential that they are able to work together at this time.”

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