Stricken UUֱ dairy farm gets £250,000

Picture: JON GUEGAN. (37130855)

A DAIRY farm devastated by an “unprecedented” loss of more than 100 cows from the Island’s highest-yielding herd last year has received a major grant from the government to support its recovery.

A total of £250,000 has been awarded to Woodlands Farm in St Helier after it lost the cows in a suspected botulism outbreak.

Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel told the JEP: “The loss of stock last December was unprecedented – 6% of the Island’s milking herd died in one event.

“Woodlands Farm is one of 12 producers which supply UUֱ Dairy, and maintaining its operations was therefore strategically important to ensure the continuity of the whole industry and avoid repercussions which would have led to additional costs across the dairy sector.”

The Howard Davis Farm Trust, which awards grants for agricultural and environmental causes, also contributed to Woodlands’ recovery, providing funds for 59 cows and heifers to help replenish the herd in October.

The grant from the government was awarded to the dairy farm following the issuing of a “letter of comfort” in September, but was not made public at the time.

News of the grant came to light as Treasury Minister Ian Gorst last month responded to a written question from Deputy Lyndsay Feltham – who chairs the Scrutiny panel tasked with analysing how taxpayers’ money is spent – requesting a list of all “letters of comfort” issued during his term of office.

The government recently confirmed that the grant was issued to fund the farm’s recovery.

Letters of comfort are notes expressing an intention to provide financial support which are not legally binding. They are used when there is an urgent need for expenditure, but a full business case cannot be provided or considered due to time constraints.

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