THE government is being urged to take immediate action to save Worcestershire dairy farms hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Covid-19 outbreak has seen the almost complete loss of the food service and hospitality markets, as well as increasing price volatility in global markets.

This has left farm businesses and processors under increased pressure, some with no other option but to pour perfectly good milk down farm drains.

NFU president Minette Blatters has called on Defra secretary of state George Eustice to take urgent steps to ensure the sustainability of the dairy sector.

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes, who farms near Bromsgrove, said: “A key issue is that dairy farmers or processors largely cannot access the Treasury schemes designed to help businesses through this crisis.

“We cannot furlough staff or stop milking cows, and things like business rate holidays don’t apply to us.

"We need Defra and the Treasury to work together to extend these schemes so that they can be utilised by everyone in the dairy sector.

“It’s important for everyone that we protect the UK dairy sector so when the eating out of home experience is allowed to operate normally again, we have the dairy farmers in business and with the capacity to produce milk that forms the basis for dozens of healthy and nutritious dairy products which are loved by the nation.”

Ms Blatters added: “The Secretary of State needs to step in now and take urgent and decisive action, before it is too late and many of those iconic dairy businesses go to the wall.”