Emergency funding agreed to prevent 'end of Guernsey's dairy farming industry'

Almost half a million pounds is being given to Guernsey's dairy farming industry amid soaring costs.

The island's Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure and Policy and Resources Committee has agreed to a funding injection of £486,000 as farmers face mounting pressure from rising fertiliser and feed costs, which are up by almost 40%.

Alongside this, many farmers have been forced to begin using their winter feed supplies due to the hot and dry conditions of recent months.

There are fears that several of the island's 12 dairy farms could be forced out of business.

Many Guernsey farmers are on the brink. Michael Bray, the Guernsey Farmers' Association President said: "most farmers here have poured their life savings into these farms.

They've propped them up for the past six months, putting their own personal life savings into the business to keep it afloat."

The States hopes the money can help the sector survive this period of high costs, which are caused in part by the conflict in Ukraine.

Many farmers have already tried to head off the rise in costs by importing feeds collectively rather than as individual businesses - however, the States warns that many are still operating at a large deficit.

Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of the Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure, said: "We're at a critical point for dairy farmers and we face a real risk of losing more farms, to the point that the sector as a whole may never recover.

"If we don't act, we could very quickly see the end of dairy farming in Guernsey. That is no exaggeration."

Guernsey cows in their field Credit: ITV Channel Television

There is currently a balancing act between ensuring farmers can meet their costs while making sure that the price of milk remains affordable for islanders.

A litre of milk currently costs around £1.50. Without this cash injection, the only way to save the industry would have been to put up the prices. And for consumers that are already feeling the pinch, this would have potentially driven them away.

President of the Policy and Resources Committee, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, said: "We must look at how we make the dairy farming sector as sustainable as possible, balancing farmers' costs with keeping the price of our milk... at least reasonably affordable for Islanders.

We cannot stand by and let such a special part of our Guernsey identity disappear because if we do it will almost certainly be lost forever."

A review of how the sector can survive longer-term has been agreed by the Committees.