EU dairy support package worth just £1,820 to UK farmers

Dairy farmers in England face a two-month wait before they receive a one-off crisis payment from Brussels averaging £1,820 each.

The money is from a £26.2m direct aid package announced for the UK by the European Commission earlier this month.

Milk producers in England have now been allocated £15.5m from the aid package.

Northern Ireland will receive £5.1m, Wales £3.2m and Scotland £2.3m.

See also: Farm support package falls short, say industry leaders

In England, the exact amount of the crisis payment will vary per farmer and be based on flat rate per litre of milk production in 2014-15.

Ministers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have flexibility about how they wish to use their allocations to support farmers.

Northern Ireland has been given a boosted allocation – worth £5.1m – in recognition that Northern Irish farmers have been suffering from some of the lowest prices across Europe.

Defra secretary Liz Truss said: “We recognise that many dairy farmers are suffering financial difficulty at the moment and the support announced today will offer some relief.”

Ms Truss said Defra was also pursuing a host of measures to improve the long-term stability of the dairy industry and help farming businesses grow and thrive.

These measures include working supermarkets, retailers, manufacturers and caterers – on more consistent labelling and branding of British dairy products.

The government also wanted improved transparency across the supply chain and more space allocated to British dairy products on shop shelves.

Ms Truss said: “Dairy farmers are a vital part of our £100bn food and farming industry.

“I want to support the industry to become more resilient and ready to take advantage of the growing demand for British dairy both at home and overseas.”

“While it’s right that the immediate focus is on support for farmers’ cashflow it is equally important that we help build for the long term”
Liz Truss, Defra

“While it’s right that the immediate focus is on support for farmers’ cashflow it is equally important that we help build for the long term.”

Ms Truss said she was pleased that the commission had agreed that a futures market would help dairy farmers manage volatility.

The government was also working with the commission to look at ways of using UK’s Groceries Code Adjudicator as a model that could benefit the whole of Europe.

Other measures included an urgent industry-led review of best practice in the dairy supply chain facilitated by the AHDB.

The government had also committed to publish details of its central government catering contracts, including their renewal dates, said Ms Truss.

This would allow dairy farmers the opportunity to prepare and compete for contracts.

Ms Truss said she would lead a trade delegation to China in November – including eight British dairy businesses – to promote quality British products to what was a growing market.

This visit would be part of Defra’s commitment to expand export market opportunities – which grew to a record £1.4bn for dairy in 2014.

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