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Defra and Welsh Government clarify eligibility for dairy hardship funds, but industry concerns remain

The UK and Welsh Governments have clarified farmers will need to have taken a hit of at least 25 per cent to their average milk price in order to access either dairy hardship fund. 

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Defra and Welsh Government clarify eligibility for dairy hardship funds, but industry concerns remain

The cut in price must be demonstrated in April 2020 compared to February 2020.

 

An earlier statement from both governments said the eligibility of English and Welsh farmers would be calculated on ‘base price paid’, sparking fears from the NFU, NFU Cymru and the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) that farmers hardest hit by the milk market turmoil could be excluded from accessing the support.

 

Following the industry backlash, the governments were forced to issue a correction and admitted they had made an error.


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Concerned

 

But industry remains concerned that farmers who had to discard milk will still not be eligible under the corrected criteria.

 

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes told Farmers Guardian governments original announcement to calculate farmer eligibility on base price would have been ‘disastrous’.

 

He said: “Despite amending the criteria, I am still concerned Defra is focusing on average price paid (ppl) rather than loss of income, as initially promised.

 

“The scheme will not support those producers who listened to industry and processor calls to reduce production levels and mitigate financial impacts to their businesses, and as a result, they will lose out unjustifiably despite experiencing income losses.

 

"The NFU will lobby Government to ensure the scheme recognises these producers."

 

Confusion

 

 

RABDF chairman Peter Alvis said: “While we welcome the support from Government, it is disappointing after a month of waiting that there is still little detail as well as some confusion.

 

“We do not understand how farmers will demonstrate milk volumes dumped, as this will not appear on milk statements and therefore the volume loss cannot be evidenced in this way.”

 

Frustration

 

Mr Alvis also expressed his frustration that non-bovine milk producers were not included in the latest announcement.

 

“It is disappointing the non-bovine sector has been excluded yet again in this latest announcement about the fund, despite both Governments being made aware of the fragility of the sector,” he said.

 

“Due to the small size of the sector, we hope the Government can find a small sum of money to support them as without it, these farms will quite simply not survive.”

 

Applications

 

 

Producers in England will be able to submit applications for the hardship fund directly to the Rural Payments Agency from June 18, and can expect to receive a one-off payment to cover 70 per cent of lost income during April and May from July 6.

 

For Welsh producers, the application window will also open on June 18, with applications submitted online via Rural Payments Wales.

 

Both application windows will close on August 14 2020.

 

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