Welsh sheep farmers' call for livestock deaths cash

Lambs in snow
Image caption North Wales was hit by very heavy snow for several days from 21 March

Farmers say Welsh government action does not go far enough to help those who have lost sheep due to heavy snow.

Ministers have allowed a seven day relaxation of strict EU rules allowing farmers to bury dead animals rather than pay to have them removed.

Natural Resources and Food Minister Alun Davies said the Welsh government would not offer any cash aid to farmers.

Some farmers say seven days is not enough and some called for cash help.

They say it will take weeks before they can get to the dead sheep under snow drifts although the temporary lifting of the burial ban will be reviewed after seven days.

Alun Edwards, a hill farmer near Llanuwchllyn, Gwynedd, said: "A derogation from burying our animals is far from enough.

"It's not realistic and it shows a naivety as far as the situation is concerned," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"There were so many huge snow drifts in various areas, 20-30ft [6-9m] drifts.

"Those drifts are not going to go away through the whole of April."

He said farmers are legally responsible for removing the carcasses, costing £15-20 an animal.

"So not only do we lose the animals but we have to pay to get rid of what's left of them."

Deep drifts

North Wales was hit by very heavy snow for several days from 21 March with large drifts that prevented farmers in many areas reaching their sheep at the height of the lambing season.

Farms in the worst affected areas of Conwy, Denbighshire, Wrexham, Gwynedd, Flintshire and parts of Powys will be temporarily allowed to bury their sheep, lambs and calves.

However, they have to provide evidence of inaccessibility.

Tudor Jones, who farms near Bangor, Gwynedd, said: "It's a welcome start but you can't bury sheep you can't find.

"I have only found three sheep. It could be at least three weeks before the deepest drifts where the sheep are buried has thawed."

He called on Mr Davies to follow the lead of Northern Ireland and Scotland where a fund has been offered to help those who have lost livestock.

NFU Cymru official John Owen told BBC Radio Wales the union was due to meet the minister on Thursday where the issue of cash help would be raised.

"The losses some of these farmers have incurred is substantial," he said.

'Significant problems'

"The amount of sheep they have lost is going to have a considerable effect on their income over the next 12 months."

An NFU spokesman said the recent snow had the worst effect in north Wales, Shropshire, west Cumbria, and the Pennines, and left a "devastating picture".

He said there was no exact figure but there would probably be thousands of lambs and sheep lost in England and Wales.

The spokesman said the NFU was involved in ongoing discussions with Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in England, and was "hopeful" of financial help for farmers who had lost livestock.

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