FOLLOWING A tough year for the dairy industry, the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has asked that UK banks, tax authorities and the Rural Payments Agency to show support to farmers.
At a meeting hosted by Defra Secretary Liz Truss, the RPA was urged to prioritise dairy farmers as many face a squeeze on prices, which is putting their businesses at financial risk.
The UK tax authorities have been asked to adopt a ‘sympathetic stance’ towards dairy farmers who are facing fiscal struggles.
The show of support for the dairy sector has been welcomed by the National Farmers Union, which said it was ‘reassuring’ that retailers, the government and banks were committing to helping farmers in need.
NFU President Meurig Raymond added, “The Secretary of State made clear that she will take forward many of our demands for immediate help such as looking at any overdue SPS payments and the ability to stagger tax payments and support from banks.
“We continue to believe that government should also look at addressing other important areas including lifting the EU intervention price and profit averaging over a longer period.”
Major retailers and banks, as well as industry representatives attended the rountable meeting where it was also agreed to establish a new industry-led group to explore some of the key issues around the dairy supply chain, including contacts and the potential development of a futures market.
Farming Minister George Eustice said, “The dairy code of practice has been successful in getting farmers fairer contracts with their milk buyers.
“Now we want to build on its success and encourage more of the remaining processors to sign up to the code.”