The NFU has welcomed a new £1m dairy marketing campaign, but insisted more must be done to help struggling dairy farmers.
AHDB and Dairy UK has joined forces with Defra and the devolved governments for the 12-week promotional campaign, which goes live next week.
It will mainly focus on driving tea, coffee and milk-based drink occasions to increase human connections during this challenging period of the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign will appear on social media, digital and, for the first time in more than a decade, on television.
Retailers, processors and farmers will come together to support the campaign.
Dairy UK chief executive Dr Judith Bryans said: “We want to remind people of the importance of taking a moment to connect with each other while enjoying the foods they love, even if it is remotely.
“We can still take a moment for ourselves and others in these most challenging of times and we can still enjoy nutritious dairy.”
NFU national dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said: “This campaign is about increasing consumption of milk and dairy products and promoting the industry in a positive light.
“There will be a role for farmers too to interact on social media with consumers.
“Anything that encourages milk consumption at this difficult time for dairy farmers is a positive.”
But he added: “It doesn’t take away from the desperate need for a hardship fund for dairy farmers supplying the food service who no longer have a market for their milk.
“We need something in place very, very quickly for those farmers whose heads are under water at this present time.”
Hardship fund talks
Farmers Weekly understands that Defra is working hard with the Treasury on scoping out a hardship fund for those dairy farmers who have been suffering most, with falls in farmgate prices and a drop in demand for milk collections from processors.
The NFU said more than 2,300 farmers had responded to their request to write to their MPs to explain the challenges facing dairy farmers and their businesses.
“It’s made a massive difference. We’ve never had this scale before,” said Mr Oakes.
“South Lakes MP had a meeting with the farming minister [George Eustice] on Tuesday. Mr Farron has received at least 40 emails from farmers alone.”
The NFU estimates about 25% of the UK’s 9,000 dairy farm businesses have become financially unviable since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Average milk prices have dropped below 20p/litre for hundreds of farmers and many have been forced to throw away milk after café and restaurant closures have seen demand plummet.