OFFICIALS AT the National Fallen Stock Company are confident the scheme will start with the minimum of disturbance on Monday.

“There will always be a few teething problems, maybe even for the first six months, but with some goodwill on all sides, we hope to have these issues resolved as soon as possible,” said Michael Seals, chairman of the NFSCo.

Mr Seals assured farmers there would be ample coverage in every area where the scheme would operate. “Every postcode has at least one collector,” he said.

This includes the Isle of Wight, which was without a collector last week. “The hunt came back and said they could honour their original tender,” said Mr Seals.

Trading standards officers, who are responsible for enforcing animal health and welfare rules – including dead stock disposal – told farmers weekly they foresaw no problems with farmers complying with the scheme, other than cost.

“We’ll be taking a pragmatic approach, but there will be a slightly different approach for those found dumping animals,” said Glenn Berry, animal welfare inspector with Somerset trading standards.

A similar stance will be taken by Graham Godbold, animal health and welfare officer at Shropshire Trading Standards, who said: “No doubt there will be a few problems in the short term, and we will take a light-handed approach until the scheme is up and running, but farmers should use it when they can.” DEFRA confirmed it had asked the authorities to adopt a sympathetic approach during the delay in introducing the scheme, but it now expected them to investigate when necessary.

However, Farmers For Action is angry at DEFRA”s interpretation of the EU law which does not allow for a burial derogation in some inaccessible areas.

“Brussels produced a common-sense definition of an inaccessible area, and that didn’t necessarily have to bear any relation to distance,” said FFA chairman David Handley.

“You can’t say a dense forest, a bog or a mountain is an accessible area. You should be allowed to bury stock that fall in such places.

“The whole legislation is based on supposition. If there was evidence to back it up, we would support the scheme.”

Subscriptions to the Fallen Stock Scheme costs £28 a year. On or after Monday, Nov 22, farmers can join by calling 0845 054 8888.