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FUW urges dairy farmers to take out milk insurance cover

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Welsh dairy farmers were warned today to check that they are insured for loss of milk supplies due to adverse weather this winter. 

“Serious weather conditions are likely to affect the collection of milk produce over the coming months,” said the Farmers’ Union of Wales business development director Emyr James. 

“During last years harsh winter many farmers suffered losses as milk collection services were disrupted due to hazardous road conditions. 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 winters 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, said Mr James. 

Before last winter the previous spell of bad weather to have an impact upon milk collections was in the early 1980s. As a consequence, many farmers have allowed uncollected milk cover to lapse.  

Most farmers have not taken out milk insurance yet, as most of them believe bad weather will not affect them enough to make it worthwhile, said Mr James. 

Ceredigion Council decided that over ten roads will be removed from the first-grit route this coming winter such as the B4234 Felinfach to Hendrelas, B4334 Penrhiwpal to Brynhoffnant, C1010 Rhydtir to Gogerddan crossroads and the B4342 to Talsarn.  

Insurance cover is available to cover circumstances outside personal control in which milk is lost, wasted, or spoiled, resulting from non-collection from the purchaser,” added Mr James.  

The cover, however, is not only specifically for weather conditions but covers non-collection for any reason beyond human control.  

Looking at the road conditions from last year, it is worthwhile considering insuring against the possibility of milk not being collected this winter. 

Organic dairy and beef farmers Robert Fear, 66, his wife Maureen, 64, and their son Mark, 29, of Tynffynnon farm, Cilcennin, Lampeter, who farm around 60 dairy cows, have taken out milk insurance this year to ensure they are covered for the worst case scenario following last winter’s problems. 

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 Mr Fear. 

Mrs Fear said: We have lived here for over 13 years and have never experienced such bad weather as we had last winter. 

All of a sudden we heard the milk tanker was not coming because of the state of the roads. As farmers on the same collection route, we were ringing around each other asking if their milk had been collected – and of course it had not. 

You just did not know if it was going to be picked up or not. Then if you had it picked up you did not know when the next collection would be. It was an anxious time while the roads were in this treacherous situation.” 

Mr Fear added: We had just seen the New Year in and it was a job to get hold of anyone to speak to. The transport company is based in Whitland and some of their drivers could not get into work because of the bad weather. 

Now that we have taken the insurance out it is complete peace of mind. We dont have to worry now if the milk does not get collected. It is still going to be hard, when you have made the effort to milk the cows you dont want to pull the plug on it.” 

Mrs Fear added: We are only a small family farm. If the money does not come in because of wasted milk collections, bearing in mind the low milk prices as well, we are in trouble if we lose two or three collections in a month.

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