Dairy farmers impacted by Covid-19 are now able to claim up to £10,000 financial support. The fund announcement which was made by Defra on 6th May enables dairy farmers to apply to cover up to 70% of lost income during the months of April and May and will be eligible if they have lost more than 25% of their income during the same period.
Dairy farmers have faced unprecedented challenges during the Covid-19 crisis with demand from restaurants and cafes falling significantly and farmers left with surplus stock and reduced sales, whilst overheads remain. In addition to the hardship fund announced, the government have backed a £1 million campaign to boost milk consumption to help the farmers sell surplus stock.
These measures are in addition to the competition laws that were relaxed on 17th April enabling dairy farmers to work together to reduce waste and maintain the productive capacity. These include allowing the dairy farmers to work together on aspects such as logistics, sharing labour and facilities (in line with social distancing) to adapt to the changes in the supply chain such as reduced collection by retailers who have had to close. This relaxation also enables farmers to cooperate to temporarily reduce production or identify joint opportunities to divert capacity into processing milk to be made into other dairy products with longer shelf lives, such as cheese and butter.
With the recent announcement from the government that employees that cannot work from home may now look at returning to work, farmers have the added pressure that any employees returning must be supported in adhering to the social distancing rules of maintaining a 2 metre distance from other workers. Farmers who employ a workforce outside of their immediate household must consider how this impacts them and potentially face additional costs in ensuring that these health and safety requirement can be met.
Farmers can of course also access the range of other support to help businesses manage during this challenging period, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
We can offer farmers and agricultural businesses advice and support during this difficult time – please contact our Agricultural Law team.