RABDF highlights Government shortfalls in EFRA evidence call

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has highlighted ways the Government could have supported British dairy farmers better during the pandemic after the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee issued an urgent call for evidence.

The EFRA Committee put out the call for evidence at the start of July giving the industry two weeks to submit their information.

Chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP, said: “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.”

In their submission, the RABDF praised the Government for issuing dedicated supported for dairy farmers but highlighted some weaknesses in the Dairy Response Fund and Government loans.

The areas the RABDF highlighted included:

* Exclusion of some of the worst affected farmers from the Dairy Response Fund as those who had to discard milk could not evidence the volume loss.
* 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.
* The loan scheme adding too much financial pressure on to farmers.

RABDF Managing Director Matthew Knight 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 added.

A Twitter survey by the RABDF asking whether dairy farmers were going to apply for the Dairy Response Fund revealed more than 80% said they could not apply/were not eligible to apply, with only 9.4% said they had applied and 7.5% said they were going to apply.

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