Monthly Archives: September 2015


Hard-pressed UK dairy farmers will receive a one-off support payment to help with their cash-flow problems stemming from the current low prices for milk and other produce, the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced today.
In England, dairy farmers will share £15.5 million in recognition of the prolonged period of low prices in this particular farming sector. In England this will be a payment based on milk production, meaning that each farmer will receive on average £1,800.
Ministers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have flexibility about how they wish to use their allocations to support farmers. Northern Ireland has been given a boosted allocation – worth £5.1m – in recognition that Northern Irish farmers have been suffering from some of the lowest prices across Europe.
The UK’s overall direct aid package is worth £26.2m, the third largest of all the member states.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
“We recognise that many dairy farmers are suffering financial difficulty at the moment and the support announced today will offer some relief.
“Dairy farmers are a vital part of our £100billion food and farming industry. I want to support the industry to become more resilient and ready to take advantage of the growing demand for British dairy both at home and overseas.
“While it’s right that the immediate focus is on support for farmers’ cash-flow it is equally important that we help build for the long term. Developing a futures market will help farmers manage volatility and we are pleased that the Commission is taking this forward. We are also working with the Commission to look at ways of bringing greater fairness and transparency to the supply chain, using the success of our Groceries Code Adjudicator as a model that could benefit the whole of Europe.”
Defra is also pursuing a host of measures to improve the long-term stability of the dairy industry and help farming businesses grow and thrive. They include:
Working with the food industry – including supermarkets, retailers, manufacturers and caterers – on more consistent labelling and branding of British dairy products, improving transparency across the supply chain and allocating more space on shop shelves. This will make it easier for consumers and food businesses to know when they are buying British dairy products.
An urgent industry-led review of best practice in the dairy supply chain facilitated by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.
A commitment to publish details of central government catering contracts, including their renewal dates, to bring transparency to the market and allow dairy farmers the opportunity to prepare and compete for contracts.
The Environment Secretary will lead a trade delegation to China in November including eight British dairy businesses to promote quality British products to this growing market. This visit is part of Defra’s commitment to expand export market opportunities – which grew to a record £1.4billion for dairy in 2014.


Farmers in England will soon find it simpler and easier to get advice and guidance from government with the introduction of the Rural Services Helpline next week.

From 30 September, farmers will have a single phone number they can call for any questions they want to direct to either the Rural Payments Agency or the Animal and Plant Health Agency – ending the need to remember multiple phone numbers. The new helpline will also coincide with improvements to GOV.UK to make it easier for farmers to access services and find information.

These are the first steps in bringing together the two agencies’ services, creating one point of contact for farming advice. This will free up valuable time allowing farmers to concentrate on their businesses.

By Summer 2016 this new way of working will go beyond phone lines to see farm inspections combined with mandatory checks. Currently a tangle of 7 regulators carry out more than 125,000 farm inspections a year to England’s 250,000 farms. Over the last parliament Defra successfully cut 34,000 farm inspections a year and over 80% of guidance – saving businesses £300 million annually.

Streamlining process between the RPA and APHA, and making better use of technology and data, will cut a further 20,000 inspections every year..

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

“Our food and farming industry is already an economic powerhouse, worth over £100 billion a year and supporting 1 in 8 jobs. I want to support our farmers to grow more and sell more British produce, and the new single farm helpline will make it quicker and easier to get the information they need from government and concentrate on producing world class food.

“Whenever farmers have to talk to government – about their CAP payments, animal health inspections or environmental stewardship scheme – we want to make it as simple as possible. Through the Single Farm inspection Taskforce we will make further cuts to the number of farm visits – saving businesses millions of pounds and countless hours.”

The Environment Secretary is also continuing to make the case with the European Commission for simplifications to Common Agricultural Policy checks and inspections – such as by using satellite data to analyse different crop types in fields.

From 30 September farmers can contact the helpline on 03000 200 301 Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5pm.


Rory Stewart MP met with local producers in Penrith last week to discuss the upcoming ‘Cumbria Day’ in London, which he is organising along with fellow Cumbrian MP’s; John Stevenson, Sue Heyman, Jamie Reed and Tim Farron. It would be the second event of its kind, celebrating Cumbrian business, and in particular, it’s speciality food and drink producers, who will have the opportunity to showcase their goods to Cabinet Ministers, Ministers, MPs, Lords and guests from the tourism industry. Whilst a date has not yet been confirmed, it is intended that a handful of Cumbrian producers – including Silver and Green, Eden Brewery and Carvetii Coffee – will travel down to London to promote their products, and the County of Cumbria, in Westminster.

Rory Stewart MP said: “I am a huge supporter of quality local produce, and the ‘Cumbria Day’ in Westminster will provide local businesses with a platform to promote the diversity and quality of Cumbrian products on a national stage. Cumbria is a beautiful part of our country with so much to offer, and attracts millions of visitors each year, and this will be a wonderful opportunity for MPs to work together on a cross-party basis, to put Cumbria in the spotlight; raising the profile of the county, and bringing attention to the important policy issues that affect rural communities.”

Cumbrian Chef and food ambassador Gary McClure, who is helping to organise the event, said: “This will be a fantastic opportunity for Cumbrian businesses to market both themselves and Cumbria, and will give them a helping hand up the commercial ladder, with a chance to distribute their products further afield.”


Rory Stewart MP was given a tour of North Lakes Foods dairy processing facilities on Friday, where he learnt how Cumbrian branded milk is produced. The dairy which operates from Gillwilly Industrial Estate in Penrith, employs 27 members of staff and produces 105,​000 liters of milk per week. They also produce cream and orange juice.

The milk is purchased directly from four contracted supplier farmers and transferred to the dairy in tankers, before being pasteurised, packaged and distributed. North Lakes Foods are contracted to supply milk to local schools, care homes and council depots, and also supply corner shops, restaurants, hotels, bakeries, holiday accommodation and motorway services. In addition, North Lakes Foods continue to support local milk rounds with environmentally friendly glass pint bottles, for doorstep delivery.

Rory Stewart said “It is fantastic that a relatively small family business like North Lakes Foods is able to thrive in this area; supplying high quality produce to local people and contributing to the local economy by buying directly from local farmers and supporting the traditional milk round. I would love to see North Lakes Dairy as a model for producing, branding and distributing local milk – this is one area we can support our local dairy farmers and I would encourage everyone to buy North Lakesmilk whenever they see it on the shelves.”

Wayne Jackson, Managing Director of North Lakes Foods said “We were thrilled to welcome Rory to North Lakes Foods on Friday. I hope he found the tour of our dairy interesting and informative. North Lakes Foods is a niche business founded on a firm base of quality product and service. We are supplied by Cumbrian farmers producing high quality milk. We also understand the need to work alongside our producers going forward and ensure they receive a fair price. We aim to enhance our Local,Cumbrian branded milk in the County, and continue using quality local farmers to supply in the future.”