In a response to a call for evidence from the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has highlighted how the Government could have supported British dairy farmers better during the pandemic.
Committee Chair Neil Parish MP commented: “The dairy industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown. We are determined to find out whether Government interventions made to help dairy farmers have been sufficient and fair, and whether any ongoing issues have been overlooked.”
Although the RABDF had some praise for Government, it highlighted areas of weakness in the Dairy Response Fund and Government loans. Amongst the areas the Association identified were the exclusion from the Dairy Response Fund of some of the worst affected farmers because those who had to discard milk could not evidence the volume loss; the exclusion of farmers who process their own milk and those in the non-bovine sector such as dairy sheep, goats and buffalo milk producers from the Dairy Response Fund; and financial pressures on farmers as a result of the loan scheme.
Matthew Knight, managing director of the RABDF, said: “We have submitted some constructive criticism specifically around the Dairy Response Fund and Government-backed loans. This isn’t the first time we have tried to highlight these issues as we did raise the issue of the non-bovine sector by writing to Defra. We also highlighted the issue with farmers dumping milk unable to evidence their losses.
“We have requested in the evidence that those farmers unable to apply because they can’t show their loss or they fall into the non-bovine sector category, are looked at as a priority,” he concluded.
A Twitter survey from the RABDF asked dairy farmers if they were going to apply for the Dairy Response Fund. It found that over 80% said they could not apply or were not eligible to apply, and only 9.4% said they had applied and 7.5% said they were going to apply.