Applications for the new Welsh dairy support scheme will open on June 18, supporting farmers hardest hit by the recent exceptional market conditions due to Covid-19, rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths has confirmed.

Dairy producers will be able to apply for up to £10,000 to cover around 70 per cent of their lost income. The sector, which plays an important role in feeding the nation, felt the immediate impact of the pandemic with the closure of the food service and hospitality sectors.

The scheme application window will be open until August 14.

Through the fund, eligible dairy farmers will need to demonstrate they have suffered a reduction of 25 per cent or more in the average price paid for their milk in April and subsequently May, when compared to February 2020.

Eligible farmers will be entitled to up to £10,000, to cover around 70 per cent of their lost income to help them to continue to meet fixed costs and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare and the environment.

But while welcoming the announcement, NFU Cymru has expressed concerns for those dairy farmers whose businesses may not meet the eligibility threshold for the scheme but have, nonetheless, been severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

NFU Cymru dairy board chair Abi Reader said: “It is vital that this support gets to those producers hardest hit by the loss of markets as a result of Covid-19.

“I am concerned that the revised criteria may not fit in with the actual events that have happened on farm this April and May. As the scheme is rolled out we will be monitoring the situation closely and feeding in our views directly to the minister and to her officials through the Dairy Focus Group. I am sure we all want to make sure that those impacted most get the support they need at this time.”

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers also expressed concern that farmers would be unable to demonstrate milk volumes dumped as this would not appear on milk statements.

In addition, Mr Alvis said it was frustrating not to see non-bovine milk producers included in the latest announcement.

Eligible farmers will need to provide their milk statement covering February, April and May 2020 as supporting documentation. The mid-June application opening period will enable eligible farmers to gather all their statements ready to support their application. Online guidance will be available to support this process.

Provided all of the necessary documentation has been submitted and validated, successful applications can expect payment within 10 days.

The minister said: “Our Welsh dairy support scheme is there to support the hardest hit by market conditions resulting from this pandemic and ensure they can continue to operate without impacting on their high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection.

“I would encourage this core group of dairy farmers to apply for this one off payment through RPW Online to help offset some of financial impacts they have experienced."

The opening of the scheme follows a series of announcements aimed at supporting the sector including:

• A new consumer campaign, led by AHDB, to increase consumer demand for milk by three per cent;

• The temporary relaxation of competition laws to enable greater collaboration so the sector, including dairy farmers and processors, can work closer to solve the differences between supply and demand; and

• Opening of the EU public intervention and private storage aid for skimmed milk, butter and cheese.