The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has called for the Welsh Government to introduce support for dairy farmers hit by severe farmgate price drops after Defra announced a fund enabling English dairy farmers to access up to £10,000 to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
FUW milk and dairy produce committee Chairman Dai Miles said: “Large numbers of Welsh dairy farmers have been hit hard by the seismic changes to dairy supply chains that have occurred as a result of the current pandemic, with many facing devastating financial losses.
“Those supplying food service outlets such as coffee houses have been particularly hard hit as farmgate prices have been slashed to well below the cost of production and payments have been delayed.”
Mr Miles said that he and FUW officials had been in regular meetings with the Welsh and UK Governments as well as with other stakeholders since March, and had called for a range of interventions including direct support.
Many Welsh farmers have been forced to throw thousands of gallons of milk away for which there was no market, while prices in markets have at times fallen below 10 pence per litre.
Similar problems in England have prompted Defra to launch a support scheme which they say is for English farmers ‘most in need’. Eligible dairy farmers are able to receive up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of lost income during April and May. The scheme also aims to ensure they can continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.
“With the same problems facing large numbers of farmers in Wales, it is now essential that the Welsh Government follow suit by introducing support for those Welsh dairy farmers who have been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Mr Miles.
With farmers unable to access many of the Government’s support schemes due to the eligibility criteria, Mr Miles said that the Defra package would come as a welcome lifeline for many English farmers, even though losses on many farms would far exceed the support that has been announced - with some suffering losses that amount to many tens of thousands more than what is being offered.
“We need to see a similar lifeline being offered by the Welsh Government in the coming days, in order to protect hard hit Welsh farms and the families, businesses and employees who rely on them.”