Dairy farmers are being urged to submit an online daily account of their losses after the government called for data on how the sector is being hit.
Demand for milk and dairy products from restaurants, cafes, hotels and other food retail outlets has collapsed, forcing some farmers to pour away milk and putting businesses at risk of folding, the industry has warned.
At a meeting last week, Defra asked for “accurate and credible supportive data” to back up the industry’s claims for support, the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) said.
RABDF is now urging producers affected by the Covid-19 milk crisis to submit an online daily account of their losses via a survey on its website, to help highlight how severe the situation is and how quickly it is changing.
“It is important we have a firm understanding of the situation, how many producers are affected and the level at which they are affected,” said RABDF chairman, Peter Alvis.
He said government plans to relax competition rules would help the industry work together and identify how surplus milk in the supply chain could be rerouted.
Mr Alvis added: “If there is still an issue the industry is unable to solve then, as a sector, we must be able to demonstrate clearly to government how big the problem is and where the issues lie.”
He said Dairy UK and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) are also trying to identify spare processing capacity, looking at how to stimulate demand and how production can be temporarily reduced.
Meanwhile, a group of organisations, including NFU Scotland and RABDF, have written to Defra Secretary George Eustice to put their voice behind NFU proposals to protect dairy farm businesses.
These include calls for a targeted grant scheme for affected farmers, and a fully-funded government-run voluntary national production reduction scheme, which effectively furloughs cows.
In the letter, they warn the dairy sector could be “irreversibly damaged” by the Covid-19 crisis.