A wide-ranging review into the natural environment has been paused while an investigation into long-term sustainability of the dairy industry is undertaken, Environment & Infrastructure has confirmed.
The Committee said last year that it would look to see if there are any risks or opportunities for the natural environment “from our current approaches to agriculture”.
It also said it would keep agricultural policy under review simultaneously “in case there were any changes in relation to food supplies”.
But Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of E&I, says that has been paused to focus on the “urgent area of work” around the sustainability of the dairy farming industry.
She said: “The States and farming industry are working together to achieve best value for money for islanders, maximise the resilience and competitiveness of our farms which will strengthen food security, and strengthen stewardship of Guernsey's beautiful natural environment."
It isn’t clear if the terms of reference had been agreed for the wide agricultural review, or if it had formally commenced.
Pictured: Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez.
Around £750,000 has been handed to dairy farmers since August to prevent several farms going out of business in the face of soaring input costs.
The industry review, which is due to complete at the end of March, is seeking to understand how to ensure the long-term viability of the sector which is currently hemorrhaging money.
Deputy de Sausmarez said this workstream has been ongoing for several months.
“During 2022, the Committee met with the Guernsey Farmers Association, who raised concerns about the financial challenges facing the dairy industry.
“As a result of this, our Committee and the Policy & Resources Committee agreed to provide emergency financial support to the industry in August 2022."
Pictured: Farmers are struggling to pay the bills.
Fears that food supplies could’ve been disrupted following the Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted E&I to remind the public that changes to agricultural policy would be considered as part of a two-year rolling review process to identify ways in which the agriculture sector has either improved or impacted, or could improve or impact, the island’s biodiversity
The Committee maintains that the States can act quickly if food supplies are disrupted, noting that supply chains remained strong throughout Brexit and the pandemic, and the first year of the war.
Suggestions that the Bailiwick is currently extremely vulnerable due to a clear lack of in-island food production were also dismissed.
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