The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has welcomed the news that the dairy response fund for farmers in England and Wales has opened, but says it is disappointed some farmers severely affected will not be eligible.

The fund is designed to help farmers in need of support following the coronavirus outbreak.

To be eligible, they need to demonstrate they have suffered a reduction in the average price paid for their milk of 25 per cent or more in April 2020 when compared with February 2020.

Qualifying farmers are entitled to up to £10,000 each to cover 70 per cent of their losses across April and May incurred as a result of a drop in price.

However, RABDF chairman Peter Alvis said the fund did not go far enough to support all those in need.

"We welcome the news of the dairy response funds in England and Wales. However, the concerns that we have raised before remain that for those farmers who had to dump milk still don't appear to be covered by the funds," he said.

“We do not understand how farmers will demonstrate milk volumes dumped as this will not appear on milk statements and therefore, the volume loss can’t be evidenced in this way.”

However NFU Cymru dairy board chairman, Abi Reader, was pleased to see non-bovine sectors covered by the Welsh Government.

“The application form and guidance notes are available on RPW online and we would encourage anyone who believes they have been affected to apply for the support," she said.

"We have had assurances that payments to eligible applicants will be made promptly, and also welcome the fact that sheep, goat and buffalo producers are included in the Welsh Government scheme.

“We still have concerns about the scope of this scheme and the way Welsh Government have chosen to calculate eligibility which has been calculated by using milk price pence per litre drop only, instead of lost income.

"The effect of this is that many dairy farmers who reduced production directly due to the Covid-19 crisis could now lose out on much needed support.

“We are urging those farmers who may be affected by this narrow eligibility criteria to still submit their applications, so that Welsh Government is aware of the extent of the problem and the numbers involved and we will continue to highlight our concerns to Welsh Government and press for a review of the scope of the scheme as soon as possible

“If members are in any doubt or require any help please do speak with your local office.”

The deadline for applications will be August 14.