Sark Island searching for new dairy farmer — and cows

An island off the coast of France is recruiting a dairy farmer to supply the islanders with fresh milk, but he or she must bring their own Guernsey cows.

Sark Island is one of the Channel Islands measuring only 5.5 kilometres long and 2.5 km wide. It relies on tourism and agriculture to support its economy, but since the last and only dairy farmer retired, Sark desperately needs a replacement.

It’s would be a bold step for any prospective farmer to move to Sark, especially when he or she would need to take their own cows with them as these are also part of the request.

Sark has no cars, no paved roads, no street lighting and almost no pollution but does attract more than 50,000 visitors each year fed by a number of eateries that need milk.

Following the retirement of the last resident dairy farmer after 30 years, the island is now without its own dairy herd. This gap has forced the islanders to import its dairy requirements from neighbouring Guernsey island.

The Seigneur of Sark, Major Christopher Beaumont, said there is an open offer to anyone who thinks they are up for the job to come forward.

“Sark milk is a high-quality product; a traditional pint will have single cream on the top. Cream made from the milk won’t pour. Butter made from the milk is rich golden yellow,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for a farmer, or farming family, with relevant experience in dairy farming and production to move to Sark and restart the dairy farming business.

“Sark is looking for a farmer who wants to build a product line that is unique by virtue of the milking stock pedigree, the superb grazing and the ideal climate.

“Any applicants will need to show a full understanding and experience of dairy farming. They will need to explain how they would take advantage of the opportunity by maximizing the potential for a full range of high value dairy products.

“There will be opportunities to collaborate with a wide range of local producers, from the local beef farmer who will need your calves to our resident chocolatier who will need your cream.”

The Sark Dairy will be run by a trust managed by four local people including the seigneur, on whose land the dairy buildings will be constructed. The trust will own the facilities for which there would be an annual nominal rent.

The farmer holds a tenancy from the trust and would own the cows and as much of the ancillary processing elements as he or she can bring to the business.

The trust estimates it would take at least two years to get a decent revenue stream so the farmer will be subsidized for the first two years between $35,000 and $40,000 tax free.

Sark is required by law to milk Guernsey cows which can be bought in Guernsey and the trust has secured verbal agreement from landowners for about 40 acres of land for grazing, feed and silage on rolling leases.

Accommodation can be provided for at least the first two years in a four bedroom house within 300 metres of the proposed dairy site at minimal cost.

At the moment the new dairy farm exists as a plan only and the new farmer would have input into its design to suit their needs.

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