Dairy Industry: Covid-19

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

What steps he is taking to support the dairy industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government have had to take some unprecedented steps to control the coronavirus, and it is the case that parts of the dairy industry were affected by the closure of the hospitality sector earlier in March. We have introduced specific measures to support the industry, including a dairy response fund, which opened for applications on 18 June. Payments will begin from 6 July. We have also relaxed elements of competition law, and we are supporting an industry-led promotional campaign.

Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

Would my right hon. Friend be able to work with the Welsh Government to secure greater milk processing capacity in order to add value back to Welsh dairy farmers, particularly in my constituency of Clwyd South, which has been hit hard by the demise of Tomlinson’s Dairies and by bovine TB, so that all farmers can get a fair price for their world-beating Welsh milk?

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The Government do indeed work with the devolved Administrations to improve outcomes for our dairy farmers. Indeed, just yesterday, jointly with the devolved Administration, we launched a consultation seeking views from dairy farmers and processors on new regulations to secure transparency and fairness in dairy contracts. As he points out, there are also circumstances where grant funding can be made available to support investment in processing capacity, and that can help add value to the milk produced by our farmers.