Farm leaders have warned the special aid payment for dairy farmers, which started arriving in bank accounts this week, will do little to ease the cashflow crisis facing many producers
Defra revealed on Monday (16 Nov) that the first payments made under the EU’s emergency aid package have been sent to more than 10,000 farmers across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
This is equivalent to three-quarters of all eligible farmers and amounts to almost £19.2m.
Payments will continue through November and December and, in total, £26.6m will be paid out to hard-pressed producers.
See also: Dairy support payments arrive on farm
NFU Scotland’s milk committee chairman, Graeme Kilpatrick, said the European dairy aid package had been celebrated by those in Brussels as a meaningful way to support farmers facing severe cashflow difficulties, but it fell short on two counts.
“The amount of money being provided to dairy farmers, while a welcome boost to cashflows at this difficult time, is a fraction of the considerable losses being faced by those whose market exposure is putting severe strains on their business,” he said.
“Second, the way the payment is being distributed in Scotland fails to recognise those most in need.”
For ease of distribution, UK ministers agreed to pay a flat rate to all milk producers, regardless of the milk contract they are on, with the final payment linked to historic production.
By Mr Kilpatrick said the NFUS milk committee took the view that the money should have been targeted at those dairy farmers most exposed to the low prices in the market.
NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison said the average support package payment would be £1,800 and dairy farmers, on average, were about £6,000/month worse off compared with this time 12 months ago.