The Government must offer support for dairy farmers to stop them going bust because of the coronavirus pandemic, says Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron.
The word ‘unprecedented’ is rightly getting a lot of air time at the moment.
There has been no other point in my lifetime where our health, our economy and our society has been so at risk.
But one element of this crisis that is receiving nowhere near the attention it deserves from both Ministers and the media is the effect on our dairy industry.
We are in a deeply worrying situation where many of our dairy farmers are facing financial meltdown.
The closures of restaurants and cafes has seen a huge drop in demand for milk, leading some farmers with no other option but to pour their produce literally down the drain.
The BBC have reported that more than a million litres of unwanted milk is being produced across the UK every day.
Couple this with the cut in the price of milk, and the impact on dairy farmers’ incomes becomes gravely concerning.
Profit margins in the dairy sector are already incredibly slim, so with a decrease in demand, those margins have disappeared, and things look set to get worse.
This comes at a time when supermarkets are making massive profits thanks to both early panic buying and by virtue of being some of the few retail outlets allowed to continue trading.
Milk and dairy-based products continue to be sold at premium prices and yet the farmer at the bottom of the ladder faces financial oblivion.
A very real concern is that, should dairy farms close now, there may be a milk shortage when things return to normal.
However, for those farmers who lose their livelihoods, this matter is utterly life changing as they face insolvency.
The Chancellor deserves credit for many of the financial packages he has put together to support businesses and workers through these unprecedented times.
However, when it comes supporting our dairy farmers, the Government have responded by putting their fingers in their ears.
I’ve written to the Secretary of State, George Eustice, on this subject many times over the past few weeks but the response has been extremely unhelpful.
His counterparts in Germany and France have been calling for financial assistance for their respective country’s dairy industries; the UK must follow their lead.
The Government must intervene to save our country’s dairy farmers.
Tim can be found tweeting at @timfarron