EUROPEAN support payments to help hard-pressed dairy farmers manage cash flow problems will start arriving in bank accounts from today, two weeks ahead of schedule, Farming Minister George Eustice has announced.
The first payments have been made to over 10,000 farmers across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – three-quarters of all eligible farmers and amounting to almost £19.2 million.
Payments will continue through November and December and are calculated for individual dairy farmers according to milk production. On average, each UK dairy farmer receive around £1,800 via the Rural Payments Agency.
The UK government secured a total of £26.6m in support from the European Commission in September - the third largest support package among Member States – to help dairy farmers affected by the current global volatility in milk prices after pressure from the farming lobby.
The progress of payments comes as The Yorkshire Post launches its Clearly British campaign which calls on retailers, processors and the wider food industry to clearly label dairy products so shoppers know when they are buying food made with British milk.
Urgent action is required to better inform shoppers after the European Commission rejected mandatory country of origin labelling on dairy products earlier this year.
Mr Eustice said: “It’s been a tough year for dairy farmers grappling with low prices for the milk they produce. We fought for, and secured, one of the largest support packages amongst EU countries and the RPA has pulled out all the stops to start making these important payments two weeks earlier than planned. I hope these payments will now provide some much needed relief for dairy farmers across the UK.
”In addition to this short-term support, our work to increase the long-term resilience of the industry continues, including introducing a fairer tax system, pushing for clearer labelling of British dairy products and setting up a futures market for dairy.
“We are also working with the industry to open up new export markets and only last week, dairy businesses from across the UK were out in Shanghai exhibiting their wares as part of the Secretary of State’s trade mission to promote Britain’s high-quality dairy produce to the Chinese.”
Any dairy farmer in England who receives a letter from the RPA and is asked to register on the Rural Payments system or to provide up to date bank account details, is urged to call the RPA’s helpline on 03000 200 301 as soon as possible.
For more reporting on our Clearly British campaign, click here.
And sign our petition calling for clear dairy labelling here.