WELSH FARMING union offices are dealing with a flood of members’ complaints about the shortcomings of the National Fallen Stock Scheme.

“We have informed the company that some farmers have had to wait up to three weeks for the collection of dead animals, and about huge variations in charges,” said Gareth Vaughan, president of the Farmers Union of Wales.

“Members have reported collectors in some areas offering significantly lower charges for private collections outside the scheme. For example, one was quoted £20 for a collection made within the scheme, or £10 for a private pick-up.”

Some members who joined the scheme weeks ago had yet to receive a list of collectors and prices, and those who had said charges had risen dramatically since the scheme was introduced in November.

It was disturbing that collectors were not arriving at arranged times, or had to be telephoned several times before they turned up.

Peredur Hughes, NFU Cymru president, said he had written to Carwyn Jones, the Welsh Assembly’s rural affairs minister and arranged a meeting with the National Fallen Stock Company.

“Delays are regularly of the order of five to seven days across Wales,” said Mr Hughes.

Union members forced to watch and smell decomposing carcasses were distressed, as were members of the public in villages close to farms or using footpaths. The union would continue its fight for the approval of farm bio-digestors, he added.

Michael Seals, NFSCo chairman, admitted that there had been teething troubles because demand was greater than expected.

However, he acknowledged that some of the delays reported by the Welsh farming unions were totally unacceptable.

“It is fair to say that since the scheme was set up we have found that in some areas there are insufficient resources to collect within 48 hours,” Mr Seals admitted.

“Eifion Evans, our Welsh director, is following up all complaints. My message to farmers is it is worthwhile staying with the scheme because it provides a lower-cost service. It is a service designed by farmers for farmers, and gives them a unified voice.”

bobdavies@agrinews.fsnet.co.uk