Urgent action needed to support Welsh dairy farmers, says NFU Cymru

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Union shares powerful and emotive messages from Welsh dairy farmers affected by the impact Covid-19 has had on the dairy supply chain.

NFU Cymru has called for urgent action to support Welsh dairy farmers, who say they feel ‘forgotten’ as the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic severely impact their businesses.

Following a series of crisis meetings this week, NFU Cymru Milk Board Chair Abi Reader and NFU Cymru Deputy President Aled Jones have demanded greater urgency from both Welsh and UK Government to provide critical support to Welsh dairy businesses. This message was also echoed by NFU Cymru President John Davies to the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, in a virtual meeting earlier this week.  

The union’s calls come as dairy farmers across Wales struggle to cope with a  combination of significant price cuts, delays to payments and, in some cases, no other option but to dispose of milk on farm because the processor is not collecting it.

Several farmers have shared personal accounts of their plight, which further emphasise the severity and scale of the problems impacting the Welsh dairy sector:

“I feel like we have been forgotten, up until a few weeks ago we were a profitable business trying to sort out succession before April 1st. Every week the dream of my young family living with me on the farm is fading away. 23.4ppl for 60% of our milk - we need 27ppl for 100% to break even.”

Llyr, Ceredigion

“‘TB, and now Freshways holding us to ransom because of Covid-19. This is why I can't see a future for you farming’. These were my words to my tearful 14-year-old son this morning as I tried to home school him the basics of photosynthesis for his Google classroom biology test...... a personal career low point. Help please.”

John, Carmarthenshire


NFU Cymru Dairy Board Chair Abi Reader said: “Today we have an unsustainable and unacceptable situation where more than 700 dairy farmers in Wales are affected by price reductions, deferred payments or reduced volumes. Our dairy farmers are telling us they feel completely forgotten by their governments. Their distressing stories highlight the very real fears of Wales’ dairy farmers whose businesses are teetering on the brink. Our iconic Welsh dairy sector and the key workers it employs are in need of an urgent rescue package.”

NFU Cymru Deputy President Aled Jones stressed: “Our dairy farmers are suffering a very severe cash crisis and direct action and support is needed immediately. The longer the delay before action, the more severe the situation and the more difficult the recovery will be.

“NFU Cymru has submitted five key asks of Welsh Government and UK Government that, if delivered, will help lessen the massive impact that this crisis is having and provide some much-needed relief for our beleaguered dairy farming members. There is no silver bullet – we need to see a combination of measures implemented by both Welsh and UK Governments if we are going to address these very serious issues.

NFU Cymru is clear that we want  to work collaboratively with Welsh Government and Defra to work through these problems and bring this crisis to an end, but we must stress that further hesitation and delay on governments’ part will only deepen the damage being inflicted on our dairy sector. The time for action is now otherwise I fear it will be too late for some dairy farming businesses.”

NFU Cymru has sent a detailed briefing on the impact of Coronavirus on the dairy sector to all Welsh AMs and Welsh MPs. The briefing stresses the need for urgent action to protect Wales’ dairy sector.


Last edited: 10:56 on 17 April 2020

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© NFU Cymru 2020