Anglesey agricultural contractor Tecwyn Hughes fears that recent rises in diesel prices could force him to quit the industry.
Mr Hughes started contracting in 1952 and at peak times he uses £9000 worth of red and white diesel a month.
His combined farming and contracting business, at Cleifiog Isaf, Llanynghenedl, also employs his sons Gareth and Ieuan, two workers and two students.
“In all my time in this industry I have never faced a situation as dire as this,” Mr Hughes said. “I feel as though contractors and farmers are being pushed over the edge, as we simply cannot cope with the huge rise in the price of fuel on top of higher prices for other lubricants, labour, machinery and spare parts.
“In 2002 we were paying 17p/litre for red diesel, but the last delivery cost 58p/litre. My supplier now says it will have to go up again. I will have to go back to customers who have booked us to sow 650 acres of maize and ask them to pay a bit more than I estimated in February.”
Bigger bills for feed
But he knows that the recent milk price rises paid to dairy farmers, who make up most of his customers, have already been swallowed up by bigger bills for feed, fertiliser fuel and energy.
He claimed that the duty on diesel had risen disproportionately compared with other fuels and that that he was paying 3p/litre more than at the time of the Budget. There was no doubt that all contractors faced bleak futures if fuel prices continued to escalate.
“If producers and contractors across the country continue to be squeezed by escalating costs, rural Britain will go bust,” Dai Davies, NFU Cymru president, warned.
“Welsh agriculture has had an incredibly tough 12 months and at such a difficult time for these businesses a significant increase in fuel costs, both on road and off road, is very damaging to their ability to recover to sustainable profitability,” added Mr Davies.