Deadline extended for £5m English dairy fund

Dairy farmers in England have been given more time to apply for funding from the £5m dairy fund launched following the SOS Dairy Summit in July 2012.

The DEFRA fund, which aims to help meet the costs of farmers setting up co-operative or collaborative projects as well as exploring new market opportunities, has had its deadline extended to 3 June.

Part of the Rural Development Programme for England, the fund invites applications for grants from £25,000 to as much as £1m – farmers must be the primary beneficiaries.

NFU dairy board chairman Mansel Raymond said the fund would help support growth in the industry and encouraged farmers to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Having this money made available is essential to improve farmers’ competitiveness, and this is a real opportunity to boost collaboration in the dairy sector and ensure its long-term sustainability.”

Although the fund does not apply to producers in Scotland, NFU Scotland said it was happy to provide guidance on how to go about setting up producer organisations.

The union had been working with the country’s co-operative umbrella organisation SAOS, which was awarded £100,000 in July last year by rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead to investigate producer organisations and further co-operation in the sector.

The EU Dairy Package amended competition law to allow milk producers to create producer organisations for up to 33% of member state production – this equates to about 4.3 billion litres in Great Britain.

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