Road gritting cut worry for Ceredigion dairy farmers

image captionCeredigion council hopes to save £52,000

Cutbacks in Ceredigion's road gritting budget could cost dairy farmers this winter, warn farming leaders.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) in Aberystwyth is urging producers in Wales to check that they are insured against milk losses.

Some collections were disrupted last winter after freezing conditions left roads impassable.

Last month, Ceredigion council agreed plans to cut by 12 the number of roads it grits in winter.

FUW business development director Emyr James said weather conditions were likely to affect the collection of milk over the coming months.

"During last year's harsh winter many farmers suffered losses as milk collection services were disrupted due to hazardous road conditions," he added.

"Some local authorities may be forced to remove roads from their gritting lists while Ceredigion County Council has already listed some roads that will not receive first-grit treatment.

"Following last winter's experience and the likely impact of local government cutbacks, it is certainly worthwhile assessing the risk of losing milk revenue owing to difficult weather conditions."

Before last winter many farmers allowed uncollected milk insurance cover to lapse, said the FUW.

Organic dairy and beef farmers Robert Fear, 66, his wife Maureen, 64, and their son Mark, 29, of Cilcennin, Lampeter, have taken out milk insurance this year.

"We had our insurance reviewed last week by our area officer. Some farmers say it is too costly and you just have to take the chance but we were not prepared to take that chance again," said Robert Fear.

The plans in Ceredigion will see about 30 miles removed from the winter gritting route.

The council said the proposals would save £52,000 a year, but would only apply to pre-gritting roads before snowfall.

Council leader Keith Evans said last month that the authority tended to grit more roads than neighbouring councils and would continue to grit on a needs basis.

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