BRIDGWATER and West Somerset's MP has welcomed a new Government grant lifeline for struggling dairy farmers – but has urged ministers to ensure the scheme is as accessible and inclusive as possible.

Defra Secretary George Eustice says the country’s milk producers will each be eligible for up to £10,000 of support as the continued closure of most of the catering sector depresses the dairy market.

The money is designed to cover 70 per cent of their lost income for April and May and to keep them in business and maintain production.

And the Government has also launched a £1 million cross-industry campaign to boost milk consumption and increase demand for dairy products.

Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said the grants would come as a huge relief to dairy farmers everywhere.

“I am delighted the Government has realised that of all the farming sectors, dairying is the one you really cannot turn on and off like a tap,” he said.

“What have particularly upset me in recent weeks are the scenes of farmers being forced to pour milk away – not any old milk, but milk which is regarded as among the best the world produces.

“The overriding need now is to get this money into the hands of the people who need it quickly, simply and with the minimum of paperwork.

“The economics of the dairy sector are hideously complicated, partly because of its fragmented nature but also because of other factors such as seasonality.

“But at the end of the day it is one of the most important of all branches of agriculture and we must ensure it remains functioning.

“We need to avoid culling large numbers of cows simply to comply with a temporary downturn in demand and we absolutely must keep producers in business.

“The alternatives will be business failures and a nation running short of milk when full demand resumes later in the year with our only option then to increase our reliance on imports – not a situation we want to be in under any circumstances.”