Less than half of the emergency support cash allocated by the European Commission last September has been paid out to dairy farmers across Europe, it has emerged.
The dairy sector remains in crisis across much of Europe, but EU farm commissioner Phil Hogan has revealed that by the end of February only €162 (£129m), of the €420m (£335m) allocated to member states had been spent.
During a European Parliament debate about measures to alleviate the agricultural crisis across the EU, Mr Hogan faced calls from MEPs for more money to be allocated to support the farming industry.
But the commissioner pointed out that only 14 of 28 member states had so far distributed the money allocated to them last year.
While the rest had until the end of June to draw the cash down, he wondered what they were going to do with it.
“Everybody wants access to more money,” he said. “As I said, we have already allocated some money which has not been utilised yet, so it is very difficult for me to go looking for more money when that money has not been expended.”
The UK is one of the countries that has distributed the money, sharing £26.2m between dairy farmers across all the devolved regions.
UK ministers agreed to pay a flat rate linked to milk production, with the rate 0.176p/litre in England, Scotland and Wales, while Northern Ireland’s farmers received just under 0.226p/litre.
The average UK payment worked out at around £1,800 a farm.
According to Brussels-based news service Agra Facts, the other countries which have drawn down the money are Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Hungary, Portugal, Germany and the Czech Republic.