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Community / School milk grant a victim of Brexit

Shetland Farm Dairies says loss of EU subsidy could have a ‘real impact’

PRIMARY school bairns in Shetland, as well as other local authority areas, will no longer receive milk while at school as a consequence of the UK leaving the European Union.

Parents have now been advised that the provision of milk will be stopped as of October after a subsidy under the EU School Milk scheme ceased in July.

Shetland Islands Council’s director of children’s services Helen Budge said that just under half of the isles’ primary pupils are affected by the change.

Budge confirmed that the council has currently no plans to look into funding the scheme itself.

Around 600 litres of milk has been distributed to local schools per week. Photo: Pixabay

Pre-school bairns, however, will continue to receive milk under a UK initiative, while the Scottish Government may consider its own scheme.

“We are now no longer able to claim EU subsidy for the provision of milk in schools, and we understand that the Scottish Government is giving consideration to a milk and healthy snack scheme for children in early learning and childcare settings,” she said.

The uptake for the subsidised school milk was 41 per cent, she said. Parents have always had to make a financial contribution because the subsidy did not cover the full cost.

Shetland Farm Dairies said the loss of the milk subsidy was regrettable, suggesting that the change would have “a real impact” on the viability of the small co-operative.

Around 600 litres of milk has been distributed to local schools per week, the milk production of about four local cows.

Highlands and Islands MSP and minister for children and young people Maree Todd said the loss of the subsidy “was another example of the detrimental financial impacts” of leaving the EU”.

She added: “Regrettably, this is a consequence of the UK Governments approach to Brexit – the European Commission has decided the UK will no longer be able to claim for subsidy under the EU School Milk scheme from October 2020.

“We would expect the UK Government to provide cover of the costs and the Scottish Government is continuing to engage with the UK Government on this issue.

“Milk is an integral part of the school food and drink regulations given its benefits as part of a balanced and nutritious diet.

“Local authorities still retain the power to provide a subsidised milk scheme within their area based on local needs and circumstances.”