FARMERS HAVE branded the fallen stock collection scheme a shambles and claimed there have been instances where animals have not been collected for days.

Powys beef and sheep farmer Hugh Besent told farmers weekly he had to wait five days for a dead sheep to be collected.

“I phoned the collector on the Friday, but the animal was not picked up until Wednesday,” he said. “But it says it in the literature for the scheme that the animals will be collected in 48 hours.”

 Roy Wilde from near Welshpool said he had waited eight days for a sheep to be picked up. “We have got to be obedient and join the scheme, but eight days is ridiculous,” he said.

Co Antrim producer Robert Wilson said farmers were dismayed at what they could see of the service and felt let down.

Mr Wilson said he knew of one farmer who had waited a week to have his dead steer removed. As the animal was rotting, the man felt forced to keep his young family inside because he was so worried about the health risk the carcass posed.

The solution was to give farmers back some rights, said Mr Wilson. “Anything left after 48 hours should be buried if a farmer feels it is the best thing to do to avoid a disease risk to his family,” he said.

Farmers For Action said the scheme only became operational on Nov 22, but complaints had flooded in from across the UK about the collection system.

William Taylor, FFA’s Northern Ireland co-coordinator, said the cost of legally disposing of a 24-month bovine animal in NI had risen by a staggering 92% since Dec 24.

Mr Taylor said he had raised the issue with the Office of Fair Trading but received a letter back that suggested there were no significant competition issues which it felt it should pursue.

Michael Seals, chairman of the National Fallen Stock Company, said since the scheme started there had been 15,000 collections and only a handful of complaints.

“We have got 19,000 members so far and the majority that have used the service haven’t found it a shambles,” he said. The problems had arisen in Wales because demand for the collection service had increased by 200%, Mr Seals said. He added:

“What we need is for farmers to help themselves. If a farmer has a problem we can’t do anything about it unless we know about it. The helpline is there, so if there is a problem, farmers should call us (0845 054 8888).

“If a farmer has a collector in the area who isn’t in the scheme then persuade him to take part,” he added.