Guernsey farmers call for complete control of the island's dairy amid funding issues

  • ITV Channel's Roisin Gauson hears from the farmers asking to be in charge of their own destiny

Guernsey farmers are calling on the island's government to allow them to control the island's dairy and decide its future.

There are 11 farmers on Guernsey who look after 20% of the island's land and they want to echo Jersey in running the dairy themselves.

The President of Guernsey Farmers Association, Michael Bray, says: "Why is the States of Guernsey running a dairy when they don't know anything about dairy farming or dairying?

"No one else seems to do it in any other jurisdiction, so we need to look at all the options."

A major issue in Guernsey Dairy's future is funding.

It says it will need more than £6.25 million to continue operating for the next five years.

The money would be used to fund the repairs and maintenance of the ageing facility which was deemed "not fit for purpose" by the States in 2020.

Chairman of Guernsey Dairy, Mark Thompson, says: "Four years ago there was a policy letter where the building was described as not fit for purpose, it's just past its sell-by date.

"In most parts of Europe, farms are supported by the Government and that happens in Guernsey too, but farmers get £1 million a year direct from the States.

"20 years ago that was £2 million so that's a lot of money that they aren't getting now.

"Environment and Infrastructure are putting together a policy letter looking at the future of farming and we are hoping that that will address the balance of how farmers are supported."

The Policy and Resources Committee will have to approve funding for the dairy business as part of the budgeting process but farmers are concerned that without it, Guernsey Dairy will not be viable in its current form.

Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the States Trading Supervisory Board, believes rather than running repairs, a new dairy should be prioritised.

He says: "Not only would it be a better capital investment but it would massively reduce the running cost of the dairy.

"We believe that we could knock a million pounds a year off the running costs, run it with far fewer people, but we have to accept that the States have decided that hospitals and schools at this moment are far more important than funding a dairy.

"The new dairy has to come fairly soon because the current one is well past its shelf life and we're having to pump quite a lot of capital money into new equipment inside the old dairy, not all of which will be transferable to a new dairy, so that is incredibly frustrating."

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