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Allocation of EU farming support package welcomed

More action needed for British dairy sector say NFU.

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Defra’s allocation of the EU farming support package will provide a welcome cash boost but more action needs to be taken in order to make a long term difference to many British dairy farmers who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat, the NFU has said.

After extensive NFU lobbying in Brussels and Westminster, Defra announced that dairy farmers in England will share £15.5 million and farmers in Wales will receive a total of £3.2 million.

NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “The allocation of EU funds to English and Welsh dairy farmers will provide a welcome cash boost for thousands of those are experiencing devastating price cuts and market volatility.

“It is important now that this money is distributed on time and without the burden of unnecessary red tape. We urge the Rural Payments Agency to ensure that all eligible farmers are paid by the end of December, as promised by the Secretary of State.

“We continue to press ministers to recognise that all sectors are suffering cash flow problems. We urge Defra ministers to take up options to release funds such as agri-environment part payment and BPS as soon as possible.”

NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison said: “AHDB figures show that average UK milk prices have fallen by 25 percent in the last year, but that hides the variance that we currently see in the sector. Some First Milk farmers have seen their milk price halve in the same period – from 30.52ppl in July 2014 down to around 15-16ppl this July – so thousands of British dairy farmers will welcome this cash boost.

“However, we must keep this in context. Although it is encouraging to see the EU Commission and British government recognise the extent of the dairy crisis, British dairy farmers, on average, were £10,000 worse off in July this year compared to the same time 12 months ago. How much difference will the average payment of £1,800 make?

“The allocation of the EU farming support package is far from the end of the story. We will continue to urge government, processors and retailers to work with farmers for more fair and transparent contracts, stronger producer groups and the development of a futures market.

“In addition, dairy products must be more clearly labelled as British and the EU must commit to a technical review of the dairy intervention scheme.”

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