Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 1st October 2015
The Environment Secretary announced these measures last week and the aid package, worth £26.2million, is to be shared across the UK.
Ministers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will have more flexibility than England in how they choose to allocate their support to dairy farmers, with Northern Ireland given a special boosted allocation worth £5.1million as the country has been recognised as having some of the lowest dairy prices in Europe.
In England, the £15.5 million aid package comes with some provisos for each farm. Payments will be given based on milk production and it works out that each farmer will receive around £1,800.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has said that she wants ‘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. In additions, she believes it is also important to deal with the long-term problem and look at ways to move forward to avoid further issues for UK dairy farmers.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced further measures which are planned to tackle the long-term problem in the dairy industry. These measures include working directly with the food industry, including supermarkets, retailers, manufacturers and caterers to deliver more consistent labelling and branding for dairy products from the UK, helping to improve transparency across the supply chain. This will give businesses and consumers the opportunity to always buy British with ease. Defra has also commissioned an industry-led review of best practice in the dairy supply chain and have committed to publishing details of central governmental catering contracts, bringing transparency to their market and giving dairy farmers from the UK a fair chance to compete for contracts.
The Environment Secretary will also be leading a trade delegation to China in November which includes eight British dairy businesses, with the aim of promoting quality British produce in the Chinese market. Defra has committed to expanding the range of export market opportunities for British produce and 2014 figures show that these grew to a huge record-level £1.4bn for dairy in 2014, so there is scope for further growth.
Many UK dairy farmers have struggled with cash flow as the price of milk, in particular, has fallen but with additional aid and further opportunities abroad, there may be a chance that things will improve in the mid to long-term.