Dairies and Express in bid to save school milk

05 July 1999

Dairies and Express in bid to save school milk

By Vicky Houchin

DAIRY processors have teamed up with a national tabloid newspaper in an effort to save the European Unions £106 million subsidy on milk for British school children.

The campaign – launched today (Monday) at the Royal Show – is the brainchild of the Dairy Industry Federation and the Daily Express.

Both the paper and the milk processors want the European Commission to maintain the subsidy which could be scrapped later this year.

The Express gives over todays front page to promote the campaign under the headline “School milk under threat.”

A double-page spread inside urges the government to invest 11p a day so that all Britains children can drink school milk.

The paper says that the total bill to the taxpayer of £76m is a “small price we urge the government to pay so school milk can stay free.”

There is still no evidence of the subsidy continuing under future Euro-budget plans but European agriculture ministers tentatively suggested last month it would do so.

But the federation said the declaration was so vague that it still leaves the way open for the Commission to review the scheme itself before the September deadline.

The subsidy works out at about 21.6ppl being paid to local councils taking part in the scheme.

School milk is vital for Britains milk industry and should be seen as an investment in the future of milk consumption, said Jim Begg, DIF director general.

“The great thing about school milk is that it carries a European subsidy – now that under threat,” he told reporters at the Royal Show

The European Commission is under budgetary pressure and looking for ways to save money.

But Mr Begg warned that the scrapping of the school milk subsidy would have “health and nutritional implications” for school children.

“The withdrawal of the scheme could actually cost the Commission money rather than save,” he added.

Mr Begg also announced the first ever National School Milk Day to ecourage children to drink milk through an increase in school milk uptake.

The special day, timed to coincide with the European Dairy Event, will be held on 22 September.

It will be supported by 13 dairy companies who will provide a mass milk sampling exercise in schools, said Mr Begg.

At present there is no provision for school milk in these schools despite the availability of financial support from the EU.

The day will be organised by specialist feed company ABN and the Daily Express.

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