Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2019-21 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Asked on: 21 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fruit and Vegetables: Production
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the availability of a diverse range of UK-grown vegetables and fruit in areas local to their production.
A
Answered on: 05 June 2020

The Government recognises the crucial role the UK's horticulture industry plays in both feeding the country and in promoting people's health and wellbeing. The UK has the climate, the landscape, and entrepreneurial farmers and growers to enable us to produce world-class fruit and vegetables.

We are proud of our growing food reputation. Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs), whether they be for beef from Scotland, lamb from Wales or asparagus from the Vale of Evesham in England, play an important role as exemplars of our quality produce. We are committed to celebrating the success of these regional and traditional products whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed, along with driving further market access to make sure they are enjoyed here and around the world.

We will always champion our farmers and growers, supporting them to grow more of our great British food and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public. This includes through using powers under our landmark Agriculture Bill, and through our work with the Food and Drink Sector Council, a formal industry partnership with the Government, helping to create a more productive and sustainable food and drink sector.

The UK has a high degree of food security, built on access to a range of sources including strong domestic production and imports from other countries. Half of the food we eat is produced in the UK. The rest of our food is imported, with 30% coming from the EU and 20% from other countries. The UK's current production to supply ratio is 75% for indigenous-type foods and 61% for all foods. We produce 61% - 75% of our food supply, but some of that is exported.

Under the current EU State Aid rules we have been unable to promote our home produced food and drink to the domestic market in Government sponsored campaigns nationally. However, we continue to work with regional food groups to showcase their top-quality produce locally; tying this up where we can with stakeholder initiatives (such as those of the AHDB), focussing on provenance and the UKs world-leading standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection.

Q
Asked by Lord Empey
Asked on: 20 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Immigration Controls: Northern Ireland
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government where they intend to establish border control posts in Northern Ireland.
A
Answered on: 04 June 2020

The Northern Ireland Protocol was designed as a practical solution to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, whilst ensuring that the UK, including Northern Ireland, could leave the EU as a whole. In implementing the Protocol, the Government’s top priority remains protecting Northern Ireland’s place in our United Kingdom, and preserving the huge gains from the peace process and the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

Whilst the Protocol is in force, both the UK and EU must respect and abide by the legal obligations it contains, as well as our other international law obligations.

The Protocol will require changes to provide for agrifood checks and assurance as goods move into Northern Ireland, building on the provisions that already exist to support the Single Epidemiological Unit on the island of Ireland. This will include a need for agrifood goods from Great Britain to enter Northern Ireland via a Border Control Post (BCP), designated for the type of goods it will handle.

As set out in the Command Paper on The UK’s Approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol published on 20 May, the Government is taking forward this work with the Northern Ireland Executive. We have already confirmed that existing BCP designations at Belfast Port, Belfast International Airport, Belfast City Airport and Warrenpoint Port will be maintained.

At a minimum we expect to expand the categories of commodities that can be handled at Belfast Port, and to designate Larne Port for live animal imports. Checks are already currently carried out at Larne on all livestock entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, but the existing facility does not currently have formal EU approval. Subject to further work with the Northern Ireland Executive and delivery partners, further designations may also be required at other existing sites. There will be no construction at points of entry where no plant or animal health checks are currently carried out.

Asked on: 21 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Bees: Conservation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, following World Bee Day on 20 May, to raise awareness of the (1) importance of bees in the survival of ecosystems, and (2) role they play in the process of pollination; and what impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the beekeeping sector.
A
Answered on: 04 June 2020

Awareness raising

This is a devolved matter and the information provided relates to England only. Protecting pollinators is a priority for the Government. Pollinators are an essential part of our environment and play a crucial role in food production through pollination. The Government supports two major events to raise awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators and to encourage people to take action.

Firstly, there is our ‘Bees’ Needs’ campaign, which we run with our many partners to raise awareness of the steps we can all take to protect pollinators. Under current circumstances, we shall celebrate Bees’ Needs Week online this year, from 13 to 19 July. We encourage everyone across the country to get involved, to share their own stories and to find out more about the importance of pollinators and how they can support them.

Defra also organises, in partnership with the Green Flag Awards, Championing the Farmed Environment and the Bee Farmers’ Association, an annual Bees’ Needs Champions Awards to recognise and celebrate examples of exemplary initiatives undertaken by schools, local authorities, community groups, farmers and businesses to support pollinators.

Our awareness-raising work is a key objective of the National Pollinator Strategy, a ten-year plan which sets out how the Government, conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers and researchers can work together to improve the status of pollinating insects in England.

Beekeeping sector

Honey bee hives in the UK are managed by hobbyist beekeepers and bee farmers. Guidance with respect to beekeeping in relation to COVID-19 was published on the National Bee Unit’s BeeBase website in March. The guidance highlighted the importance of beekeepers acting responsibly and ensuring that they continued good beekeeping practices, effective stock management and health checks while respecting Government guidance on social distancing. Some beekeepers rely on being able to import queens and current indications are that COVID-19 does not appear to have had a significant impact on imports.

Training courses and beekeeping events provided by the Government and beekeeping groups have been cancelled. It is difficult to mitigate the effects of this but we are making efforts to develop additional online resources available to beekeepers. Our inspectors are able to continue their vital work of inspecting apiaries to target bee pests and diseases. Social distancing can be maintained as inspectors work outdoors and do not have to be in close proximity to the beekeeper.

Asked on: 19 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Supermarkets: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements they have put in place for blind and partially sighted people to have priority for supermarket online delivery slots.
A
Answered on: 03 June 2020

The Government has been working closely with local authorities, retailers, food businesses and charities to ensure that blind and partially sighted people have access to the food and essential goods that they need.

We have published guidance online that explains what steps people can take if they are unable to access food. This guidance has been shared with local authorities, retailers and charities to help them respond to enquiries from those seeking help. The guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-accessing-food-and-essential-supplies.

Various sight loss charities are working directly with some of the major supermarkets to take forward some practical initiatives to help people with sight loss to access supermarkets.

This crisis has seen a surge in community spirit not seen in many decades, with grassroots support networks springing up all over the country. There are many local community groups who can help, as well as local shops which may be able to provide orders for delivery (by phone or by email). Many local authorities are now publicising such initiatives on their Covid-19 websites and through their Covid-19 helplines.

In addition, over 600,000 people are now registered as NHS Volunteer Responders. Verified volunteer responders can receive tasks to help those in their communities, including through shopping for vulnerable people for food and essential supplies. Health and care professionals and approved charities (including Citizens Advice and Age UK) are now able to refer vulnerable individuals into the system to receive support from volunteers.

Further, it is now possible for individuals to self-refer for assistance from the NHS Volunteer Responders, if they consider themselves to be vulnerable and in need of support.

Q
Asked by Lord Jopling
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Hormone Treatments
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble n 15 May (HL3775), whether they will now answer the question put, namely, why they have adopted the EU's legislation on the use of growth hormones in food production; and what caused the change in policy held by previous governments on that legislation within the Council of European Agricultural Ministers.
A
Answered on: 02 June 2020

As a Member State, the UK fulfilled its obligations of EU membership and implemented EU Council Directive 96/22/EC (as amended) into domestic law. UK policy was always to implement EU law as required.

Although the UK expressed some concerns with the robustness of the scientific evidence underpinning the EU ban at the time, it has always been fully implemented in the UK and this will continue, now we have left the EU.

Asked on: 14 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Supermarkets: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the ability of supermarkets to identify vulnerable people to ensure that they are able to arrange food deliveries, and (2) the concerns raised by many disabled people that personal information may be sold on via marketing companies.
A
Answered on: 29 May 2020

Defra works closely with supermarkets to ensure that people who have registered with the Government as extremely clinically vulnerable, and have indicated that they need help to access food, are supported by offering them emergency food parcels provided by the Government.

Supermarkets have been working at pace to expand the total number of delivery and click and collect slots for people in the wider non-shielded vulnerable category.

Data has been made available to supermarkets on a strictly limited and controlled basis for the purpose of helping vulnerable people; supermarkets cannot contact anyone who does not have an account with them and individuals’ data will not be passed anywhere apart from to participating supermarkets. We have written agreements in place governing the sharing, use and retention of data. This precludes the sale of data that has been shared with them, or its use in any way contrary to the purpose under which it is shared.

Asked on: 13 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dairy Farming: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment will be made of the adequacy of their financial package of support for the dairy industry during the COVID-19 lockdown.
A
Answered on: 28 May 2020

The Government has continued to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain throughout this difficult period to assess the challenges facing the industry and to ensure that appropriate financial support is provided. The vast majority of Britain’s dairy farmers continue to supply their contracts at or around the usual price. Approximately 5% of total milk production, however, goes to the service trade. A small proportion of farmers supplying milk to processors that sell into the food service sector have seen a reduction in demand with the closure of food service. A small proportion of suppliers have therefore seen a reduction in demand. We have provided a range of support to help these affected farmers.

At the outset of the pandemic, the Government announced a number of emergency measures to support farmers, processors and retailers. These include designating the food sector as critical to the response, with people working in the production, processing, sale, distribution or delivery of food categorised as key workers and granting derogations on drivers’ hours limitations.

In addition, to support milk producers, the Government announced on 17 April a temporary easing of some elements of competition law to make it easier for the dairy industry to come together to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency and to ensure that as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products. This Statutory Instrument was laid on 1 May and applies retrospectively from 1 April.

On 6 May we announced a new scheme specifically to provide support to eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May because of coronavirus disruptions. This will provide farmers with funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during the qualifying period, enabling them to continue to operate and to sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

Defra and the devolved administrations are also jointly contributing towards financing the new £1 million campaign by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Dairy UK to drive an increase in the consumption of milk. Running over 12 weeks, the campaign is highlighting the role that milk plays in supporting moments of personal connection during times of crisis.

Our Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme is available to farmers, milk buyers and processors. Responding to industry feedback on this scheme, Defra held urgent discussions with the major banks to ensure they understand that farmers, milk buyers and milk processors are eligible. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme, which applies to businesses operating in agriculture, ensures that the smallest businesses can access loans up to £50,000. To give lenders the confidence they need, we have provided them with a 100% guarantee on each loan and will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and fees.

Public intervention for skimmed milk powder (SMP) and butter continues to be available in the UK. Alongside this we have also ensured the availability to UK dairy processors of private storage aid for cheese, butter and SMP. These measures will help to underpin prices, providing a floor in the market by reducing the volume of product coming on to the market.

We will continue to engage with the dairy industry throughout this period of disruption to monitor the impact of the range of financial and other measures we have implemented, ensuring that the sector continues to have the support that it needs.

Asked on: 14 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Food: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of the food in parcels being distributed to those shielding from COVID-19 in England is ultra-processed food.
A
Answered on: 28 May 2020

There is no universally agreed description for ultra-processed foods and therefore the Government cannot comment on the percentage of such in the food parcels. The contents of the emergency food parcels have, however, been reviewed by nutritionists as overall based on, and broadly in line with, the national food model, the Eatwell Guide.

Asked on: 13 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fisheries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the UK’s negotiating position on a future fisheries agreement with the European Union.
A
Answered on: 27 May 2020

The UK published its approach to fisheries negotiations on 27 February and has since published its draft Fisheries Framework Agreement legal text, as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement laid before the House on 19 May.

Q
Asked on: 18 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Trees: Disease Control
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect the UK from the import of (1) oak processionary moth, (2) emerald ash borer, and (3) Xylella fastidiosa.
A
Answered on: 27 May 2020

The Government has established UK Preparedness Boards for both Xylella fastidiosa and the emerald ash borer (EAB), chaired by the Chief Plant Health Officer, to monitor and mitigate risks and to ensure a swift and effective response should either enter the UK.

On 21 April, Defra also introduced new national measures to impose more stringent import requirements to protect the UK from these threats.

For Xylella, the import of Coffea and Polygala myrtifolia species is now prohibited, due to a high disease rate in these species, and stronger import requirements have been introduced for other high-risk hosts including olive, almond, Nerium oleander, lavender and rosemary.

For the EAB, there are stronger controls on countries within 100km of confirmed outbreak areas. This includes the removal of an option in EU legislation to remove the bark and sapwood to a depth of 2.5cm for all countries regulated for EAB.

In relation to oak processionary moth (OPM), restrictions on oak tree imports were tightened in 2019, so that imports of all oaks from outside Europe are prohibited and the import of large oaks (which are susceptible to OPM) from Europe is prohibited, unless they originate in a pest-free area or a country where OPM is not known to occur, or have been grown under physical protection throughout their life.

Asked on: 13 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture: Seasonal Workers
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 7 May (HL3400), what plans they have (1) to encourage more flexible and part time seasonal employment on farms, and (2) to encourage more British workers to apply for vacancies through the Pick for Britain scheme.
A
Answered on: 26 May 2020

There are already a number of recruitment efforts under way by industry and we encourage as many people as possible to take up seasonal work on farms. We took the decision to allow thousands of furloughed staff to take additional jobs and top up their income.

We know people are signing up for extra work and we are working with industry to highlight these jobs and encourage recruitment. We are working with industry to encourage farmers, growers and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) licensed businesses with vacancies to add their websites to the Pick for Britain (PfB) website through the ‘Are you an employer’ page. We are also working with industry recruiters to encourage them to post vacancies on the GOV.UK Find A Job digital platform so farmers can access a broader number of jobseekers.

Jobs will continue to be added by these recruiters as more workers are needed and we will be working with industry to promote the PfB website throughout the summer. Further communications on PfB will be released based on the needs of the sector- this may include regional variations and targeting towards specific audiences such as students.

We are in regular contact with the industry and current sentiment is that labour demands are being met for May. But we will monitor this across the picking season and work with growers and industry to join up potential sources of labour, including highlighting the benefits of a diverse and flexible workforce.

Asked on: 13 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture: Seasonal Workers
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many current seasonal farm workers are (1) Eastern European, and (2) UK recruits through the Pick for Britain scheme.
A
Answered on: 26 May 2020

Defra does not hold details of the number of seasonal farm workers from eastern Europe versus those recruited through the Pick for Britain (PfB) scheme, but we understand that this year’s workforce is likely to be more diverse than in previous years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Industry tells us that demand for seasonal workers in May is currently being met, but we know that demand will rise from June onwards. A number of workers from within and outside of the UK have already been recruited and trained and will continue to work on our farms throughout the season.

There are already brilliant recruitment efforts underway by industry and there has been a strong response with thousands of British people expressing their interest in agricultural work in the upcoming months.

The PfB website acts as a central hub to signpost people to recruiters of seasonal agricultural workers and jobs will continue to be added to the website by these recruiters as more workers are needed. We will be working with industry to promote the PfB website throughout the summer.

We will continue to work closely with industry to ensure our food supply chain remains resilient and to help our world-leading farmers and growers access the labour they will need over the busy harvest months.

Q
Asked by Lord Farmer
Asked on: 06 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture: Subsidies
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reform the three crop rule in agriculture as part of the UK's withdrawal from the EU; and what plans they have to inform the farming industry of any such rule changes by the end of June to enable planning for 2021.
A
Answered on: 21 May 2020

We are looking to take the opportunities which leaving the EU presents to make further simplifications for the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme. This could include removing some or all of the burdensome greening rules which have failed to deliver for the environment such as the 'three crop rule' which tells farmers how many crops they must grow, regardless of the demands of the market. Relevant regulations will be subject to Parliament's approval. We will announce the new rules to farmers in due course.

Q
Asked on: 12 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
National Parks: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what targeted, support they are making available to businesses in National Parks both during and after the lockdown.
A
Answered on: 21 May 2020

The Government has made available a wide range of support measures to businesses during these unprecedented times. This support is available to businesses in National Parks. These include help with business rates, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan scheme, and the discretionary fund set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

The Government has been working with the National Park Authorities (NPAs) from the outset to understand the impacts from Covid-19, ensuring Parks make full use of the existing Government support schemes. We continue to engage closely with each NPA to assess the level of further support required.

Asked on: 05 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fisheries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest estimate of the timetable for the conclusion of negotiations with the EU on fisheries.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2020

Negotiations on a potential future fisheries agreement are ongoing after a brief pause due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The UK and EU have committed to use best endeavours to agree a new fisheries framework agreement by 1 July this year.

As negotiations progress the government will ensure that Parliament is kept updated.

Grouped Questions: HL3903
Asked on: 05 May 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fisheries
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to update Parliament on the progress of the talks with the EU on fishing access to UK coastal waters.
A
Answered on: 20 May 2020

Negotiations on a potential future fisheries agreement are ongoing after a brief pause due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The UK and EU have committed to use best endeavours to agree a new fisheries framework agreement by 1 July this year.

As negotiations progress the government will ensure that Parliament is kept updated.

Grouped Questions: HL3902
Q
Asked by Lord Jopling
Asked on: 30 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Livestock: Hormone Treatments
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 5 March (HL1872), why they have adopted the EU's legislation on the use of growth hormones in food production; and what caused the change in policy held by previous governments on that legislation within the Council of European Agricultural Ministers.
A
Answered on: 15 May 2020

As a Member State, the UK transposed EU Council Directive 96/22/EC (as amended) into domestic law ‘Animals and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residue Limits) (England and Scotland) Regulations 2015', with similar legislation for Wales and Northern Ireland.

The law reflects UK Government policy on the use of growth hormones in food production and remains in force now we have left the EU.

The UK is committed to maintaining our current high food safety and animal welfare standards and these protections will continue now we have left the EU.

Q
Asked by Lord Patten
Asked on: 30 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Horticulture
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the UK horticultural industry.
A
Answered on: 15 May 2020

The Government recognises the crucial role that the UK’s horticulture industry plays in both feeding the country and promoting people’s wellbeing. It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on horticulture businesses up and down the country and the Government is acutely aware of the challenges facing parts of the industry at this time.

We know it is vital that the sector has access to the labour it needs, and we are aware of concerns about the impact that current restrictions on the movement of people could have on the number of seasonal workers coming to the UK. We are therefore urgently considering what measures could be put in place to help mitigate labour shortages.

We will continue to work closely with representatives from across the horticulture supply chain to identify what short-term and long-term support the sector needs. As horticulture is part of the agricultural sector, impacts of COVID-19 on the horticulture industry are being overseen by the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group, which meets weekly to monitor UK agricultural markets and to provide forewarning of any atypical market movements. During the coronavirus outbreak, this has allowed Defra and the devolved administrations to share the latest stakeholder information and data to assess the effects of COVID-19 on the agricultural industry, to ensure we have an evidence base of what is happening in specific markets and geographical regions.

We will continue to monitor the situation and to work closely with the sector to assess and respond to emerging issues as they arise.

Asked on: 30 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Horticulture: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether horticulture is as critical to the national economy as agriculture; and whether they plan to treat horticulture equally to agriculture in their plans for economic recovery.
A
Answered on: 15 May 2020

The Government recognises the crucial role that all agricultural sectors are playing during this time.

As horticulture is part of the agricultural sector, impacts of COVID-19 on the horticulture industry are being overseen by the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group, which meets weekly to monitor UK agricultural markets and to provide forewarning of any atypical market movements. During the coronavirus outbreak, this has allowed Defra and the devolved administrations to share the latest stakeholder information and data to ensure we have an evidence base to assess the effects of COVID-19 on the agricultural industry, in specific markets, or geographical regions.

Officials are having regular meetings with the different agricultural sectors to understand the specific issues affecting each sector. It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on horticulture businesses up and down the country and the Government is acutely aware of the challenges facing parts of the industry at this time. We have been working closely with the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) on reviewing when and how garden centres can reopen safely and as of May 13th 2020, garden centres have been allowed to reopen. This will allow businesses to sell their products directly to the public once again and in doing so bring about the wider benefits to consumers, especially for physical and mental wellbeing, which gardening can bring. There is extensive ongoing engagement being undertaken by the department with representatives from the horticulture supply chain to capture emerging issues and to identify what short-term and long-term support the sector, as a whole, needs.

We will continue to monitor the situation and to work closely with the sector as restrictions are removed and recovery begins.

Q
Asked on: 29 April 2020
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dairy Farming: Coronavirus
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what comparative analysis they have undertaken of the number of dairy farmers affected by COVID-19 provided (1) in the letter sent to Peers by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 22 April, and (2) in the briefing by the National Farmers Union provided to MPs on 15 April; whether they found any significant variation between those figures; and if so, what steps they intend to take in response.
A
Answered on: 14 May 2020

Dairy farmers are crucial in ensuring that food supplies remain resilient in this difficult period. While the vast majority of the UK's dairy farmers are largely unaffected some have been directly impacted by the closure of the food service sector as a result of the lockdown measures taken in response to COVID-19. Between 5 and 10 per cent of total milk production goes to the food service trade. We continue to work closely with the National Farmers Union, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Dairy UK to ensure that those most affected are supported.

In recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing this sector on 7 May we announced a new fund to support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand due to the loss of the food service sector. Eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible for funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during this qualifying period. This will enable these producers to continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

The AHDB, together with Dairy UK, have launched a new £1 million campaign to drive an increase in the consumption of milk. Running over 12 weeks, the campaign will highlight the role that milk plays in supporting moments of personal connection during times of crisis. Defra and the devolved administrations are jointly contributing towards the financing of this campaign.

The dairy industry can also access various Government backed loan schemes. The COVID-19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to dairy farmers, milk buyers and milk processors. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme applies to businesses operating in agriculture and will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans.

We also took a number of early emergency steps to support dairy farmers and those in other sectors. These included designating employees in the food sector as key workers and temporarily relaxing the normal rules on drivers' hours, enabling the sector to keep supply chains running, including deliveries from farm gate to processors.

Public intervention for skimmed milk powder and butter also continues to be available. Industry can sell skimmed milk powder and butter into public intervention when the price they would receive on the open market falls below the intervention price. This provides a floor price for dairy products. UK processors are also eligible for the recently opened private storage aid scheme for dairy.

Furthermore, the statutory instrument (SI) temporarily relaxing some elements of competition law for the dairy industry was laid before Parliament on 1 May 2020 and applies retrospectively from 1 April 2020. This makes it easier for the dairy industry to collaborate to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency in order to avoid wastage and to ensure that as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products. The AHDB and Dairy UK have offered to work with the dairy industry to support the enactment of the powers under the SI. We and the Devolved Administrations are working closely with them on this.

We will continue to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain to support the sector throughout this challenging period.

Grouped Questions: HL3680 | HL3681
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