NEIL HAMILTON AM, is backing NFU Cymru who are calling for more support for those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Hamilton says:
“Theunprecedented Covid-19 crisis is devastating businesses in virtually all sectors across Wales. Farmers, in particular, are coming under increasing pressure because several of their normal markets are no longer available to them. The massive drop in demand has impacted on red meat, poultry, vegetables and dairy.
“Milk price to the farmer has dropped dramatically, farms are forced to sell at a loss and gallons and gallons of milk are having to be poured away. Cows are at high productivity on all the spring grass and they cannot be furloughed; you cannot just turn the taps off and on again.
“We must protect the dairy sector with specific targeted support so that when lockdown ends milk will be readily available for us all.
“This is about more than protecting farmers, it is about saving the future of rural Welsh communities and economies.
In a meeting with Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, NFU Cymru Deputy President Aled Jones called on Welsh Government to take immediate steps to ensure the sustainability of the dairy sector in Wales.
He said: “I impressed on the Minister the urgency of the situation and the need for Welsh Government to step in and support the industry. I am also aware that the Minister is working closely with her counterparts in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and I hope that collectively urgent and decisive action can be taken before it is too late for many.
“We need a Government-backed scheme that can take distressed milk off the market for the next two months until we return to some normality in the sector. We also need specific support for Welsh dairy farmers whose businesses are adversely affected by what is happening out there in the market.”
NFU Cymru Dairy Board Chair Abi Reader said: “We believe there are over a third of dairy farmers in Wales who have already been severely impacted and this number is growing by the day as a result of the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak.
“We can envisage this number rising with more processors dropping their milk prices for May. As cows begin to go out to pasture milk production is increasing daily and we expect to hit peak production in mid-May. We need to move fast to mitigate the impacts of this unfolding crisis on dairy farming businesses across the country.
“A key issue that needs to be addressed is that dairy farmers and processors largely cannot access the Welsh Government and UK Treasury schemes designed to help businesses through this crisis. We cannot furlough staff or stop milking cows, and things like business rate holidays don’t apply to us.
“We need Welsh Government to extend the eligibility of these schemes so that they can be utilised by those businesses in the dairy sector who are losing significant income right now.”