MORE THAN 15,000 farmers joined the national fallen stock collection scheme in the first three weeks of operation.

Michael Seals, chairman of the National Fallen Stock Company, told farmers weekly that he was pleased by the response, as his target was to sign 40,000 producers up in a year.

“I’m actually very pleased about how things have gone, and I have had no negative comments at all about the actual service. There is a long way to go and there are a lot of things we need to put right, but after three weeks things are looking pretty good.”

Mr Seals said one issue that needed addressing was that of coverage. Since the start of the scheme five collectors had dropped out – three of them because they did not like the IT systems in place and two because they wanted to change their prices.

“That has meant problems around Stockport and in Cheshire,” he said. “We’ve also still not got ideal coverage in the Isle of Wight and Exmoor. The other problem we have is that some collectors were over-ambitious when they bid for postcode areas.”

On the issue of price, Mr Seals admitted that some collectors were charging more under the scheme that they were outside it. But he said prices could not be changed until collectors re-tendered for May.

“We’ve always said we’d re-tender for May. What we’ve got to do is work out how to do it efficiently.”