School milk is to remain on the menu for Scotland's schoolchildren.

The provision of daily dairy for kids has been in jeopardy as Brexit approaches, because leaving the EU means local authorities in Scotland can no longer receive funding under the EU school milk scheme to subsidise their own local schemes – and the UK government has not committed to replace this money.

Having expressed its concerns over the potential loss of school milk, NFU Scotland was this week delighted to hear that the Scottish Government has stepped up to the plate and agreed to plug any funding gap should the UK Government fail to provide the necessary funds. To provide certainty to parents, schools and local authorities, ScotGov has committed funding of £722,000 this school year.

NFUS vice president Charlie Adam, who sits on the union’s Milk Committee, said: “Milk and dairy are a central plank in the health of Scotland’s schoolchildren. NFUS wrote to the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, in his role as Cabinet Secretary of Education and Skills voicing the concerns of our members in August when we first heard that the valued EU funded school milk project was to cease.

“We are delighted that Scottish Government has responded quickly to ensure the scheme continues.

“For some time Scottish Government has provided positive reassurances that it values the clear contribution milk and dairy products make to our children’s health and that it was working hard behind the scenes to mitigate the effects of the loss of the EU school milk scheme," said Mr Adam. "Going forward, NFUS hope to work with Scottish Government to look at the school milk scheme post-2021 and how that will be best delivered to the nation’s schools.”

Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The withdrawal of the EU scheme threatens the ability of local authorities to provide subsidised milk in schools. It is another example of the detrimental financial impact caused to Scotland by leaving the EU.

“In the face of the funding gap caused by the UK Government’s actions, Scottish Ministers have worked together to ensure local authorities can still offer subsidised milk in schools – benefitting children and young people and protecting the interests of our hard-working dairy farmers," said Mr Ewing.

“Offering milk in schools provides an excellent source of nutrients for young people and helps to set up healthy eating habits. Supplying fresh milk to schools is a great way of bolstering Scotland’s dairy farmers and ensuring a local supply chain with low food miles.

“We will continue to press the UK Government to make up the funding shortfall, but parents and local authorities can be assured this Scottish Government will not Scotland’s children nor our dairy industry to miss out.”

NFUS described the milk subsidy scheme as 'a very important asset to the industry', playing an effective role in encouraging consumption of Scottish dairy products domestically, and providing an opportunity for children to make a connection with farming and the wider food supply chain in Scotland.

The nutritional value of the scheme is also vital, said the union, as there is a clear link between access to food and poverty and school milk allows a great many children who are disadvantaged due to economic factors outwith their control to access the nourishment that they need.