Jane Hunt MP asked:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make it her policy to increase the level of financial support available to dairy farmers.
Mark Spencer MP, Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries, responded:
We recognise the challenges facing the dairy sector. The Prime Minister set out new support for farmers to strengthen food security and grow the economy at the Farm to Fork Food Summit on 16 May 2023. This includes the creation of a £1 million programme to help dairy businesses, particularly SMEs, to seize export opportunities.
In addition, the Government has acted to support the agricultural sector, including dairy farmers, in a number of ways.
- The Farming Investment Fund offers opportunities for dairy farmers (and others) to apply for grants towards the purchase of equipment and technology, and to help fund transformational infrastructure projects, that increase productivity, boost environmental sustainability and improve animal health and welfare. Eligible investments include slurry infrastructure and robotic milking systems for example.
- Furthermore, in May 2023, the Government more than doubled the funding available in the first round of Slurry Infrastructure grant, with further rounds to follow. The scheme will support a large number of dairy farmers to upgrade their slurry systems, to improve organic nutrient use, reduce pollution and improve farm productivity.
- The Government made changes in 2022 to guidance on farmers using manures and steps aimed at bringing about more sustainable fertiliser technologies through the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).
- 2022 also saw increased grants for farmers and growers and boosting research and development through the Farming Innovation Programme.
- In 2022, the Basic Payment Scheme payment was amended so that payments are made in two instalments to give farmers greater financial fluidity for the remainder of the agricultural transition period.
- In January 2023, I set out in the Environmental Land Management Update details of new SFI actions that will be available in 2023. In 2024 we will be adding new actions to those currently available in SFI and Countryside Stewardship and improving a number of existing Countryside Stewardship options, which will provide more support to the industry and drive uptake at a time of rising costs for farmers as a result of global challenges.