Further support may be needed – farmers’ president

A DAIRY farmer of 11 years said he has never experienced such desperate times as this summer – and he believes that farmers will be seeking further support next year.

Guernsey Farmers’ Association president Michael Bray has not known such desperate times in his 11 years in the industry. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31098142)
Guernsey Farmers’ Association president Michael Bray has not known such desperate times in his 11 years in the industry. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31098142)

Michael Bray, president of the Guernsey Farmers’ Association, has welcomed the support announced by the States yesterday which, senior politicians said, was needed to save the island’s dairy industry from collapse.

The States is supporting the industry with £486,000.

Each farm will receive a portion of the funding depending on how large its herd is, meaning some farms will benefit more from the payout. The same system is used for making support payments currently.

The 12 dairy farmers eligible will receive an average of £40,500 each.

It is understood that farmers will receive a lump sum shortly which will be backdated to May. Then they will receive regular monthly payments, which will be paid until the end of the year.

‘It will cover people’s losses and overdrafts,’ Mr Bray said.

‘It’s a tricky one, some people will have made bigger losses so some would have suffered more than most. For some it will suffice, others will think it won’t even touch the sides.’

Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache said a ‘perfect storm’ of soaring inflation causing the cost of feed to escalate, along with the extremely dry weather, has caused the emergency. Farmers also did not receive financial support across the two lockdowns.

‘In the 11 years I have been a farmer, it has never got to this point,’ Mr Bray added.

‘This will make a terrible situation slightly better.’

He described the payments as a case of sticking a plaster over the issue until the end of the year.

Mr Bray’s cattle started eating into their winter reserves of food about two weeks ago.

‘The grass always tapers off in the summer, but there is not a blade of grass on anyone’s farm,’ he said.

‘People have been comparing it to the 1976 drought, but then people would have about 30 cows and now people have more than 100.’

Ukraine supplies a large amount of the world’s wheat and grain, and 5% of the world’s total food stock, which stopped being distributed to the various countries across the globe when the war started. Wheat and grain is used to feed livestock, but before this week the country had not shipped out any grain since the start of Russia’s invasion on 20 February.

‘So much is unknown with Ukraine,’ said Mr Bray.

‘Let’s just see where we are at Christmas, but I don’t see the sanctions going away – we will be looking for further support after this year.’

Other farmers, including non-dairy farmers, were contacted yesterday by the Guernsey Press, but were very reluctant to speak about the support payments.

Some, speaking anonymously, said they wished there was more support from islanders to buy local. Others said that the least they could do with at the moment would be some rain, which would at least allow them to grow grass.

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