SCHEME CHARGE OUTRAGE:By Isabel Davies

 THE CHAIRMAN of the National Fallen Stock Company wants farmers to challenge collectors who are charging too much to remove dead animals.

Michael Seals said he was exasperated to hear some collectors had pushed up their charges now the National Fallen Stock Collection scheme has opened for business.

FARMERS WEEKLY has learnt of one collector who is quoting £10 a lamb now the scheme is in operation even though the company had been charging just £5 a lamb. It has heard of another instance where the charge for collecting a six to 12-month bovine has risen from £21 to £30 since the scheme began.

Farmers For Action has also been collating prices in Northern Ireland and found it would cost £60 to have a 12-24-month bovine collected through the scheme, but £40 to have it picked up independently.

Mr Seals told farmers weekly the issue of charges was not something the NFSCo could do much about now because collectors had tendered their prices through to May. The company had been forced to accept the tendered prices because it had no way of knowing for certain what prices collectors were charging before, he said.

But he added: “If a farmer feels the collector is taking the mickey with their prices, then I hope they get on the telephone to ask them why. I would like to embarrass them into changing their prices when they re-tender.”

 Mr Seals said the 30% government subsidy for the scheme was intended to go to the farming community and not supposed to be a bonus for collectors.

But the picture varies across the country, and there are collectors who have managed to keep their charges the same for non-scheme members and members.

Sam Clutton of Wrexham-based Clutton Agricultural said he was charging £10 a ewe whether or not a farmer was in the scheme.

“We’ve tried to charge exactly the same whether farmers are in the scheme or not,” said Mr Clutton. “The difficulty comes with some of the bovines because we like to charge on weight, but the NFSCo has got us to band animals on category.”

 A spokeswoman for the Licensed Animal Slaughterers and Salvage Association said prices had risen in recent months, but that was because rendering charges had risen from about £45/t to £100/t.