3 April 1998

Cost rising, but knacker still best for fallen stock

By John Burns

CONTINUE using knackers to collect fallen stock, despite the cost, but if disposal must be on farm strictly follow the Code of Good Agricultural Practice (see below).

That is the advice from MAFF, the MLC and farming unions, who are anticipating public concern about increasing on-farm burial, even though it is legal.

Removal of government subsidy to renderers has led to higher charges – upwards of £50 a beast – by the knacker industry for collecting fallen stock from farms. More farmers are burying deadstock instead.

Chris Peeler of the NFU says it is encouraging farmers to use knackers for at least cattle and bigger sows, and wherever possible to confine on-farm burials to sheep, calves and smaller pigs. Mr Peeler favours a properly-built deadpit for those smaller animals. In the short term, he says, the only reliable way of retaining the knacker industry is to use it.

Martin Grantley-Smith, MLCs planning manager, also notes that if the UKs derogation allowing use of fallen stock in pet foods were to go, pressure on knackers would be even greater. He says the MLCs first priority is to reinstate a value for rendered products and it is working to ensure all the necessary rendering changes are in place to see the ban on using UK by-products lifted. It is also seeking new uses for meat and bonemeal or cheaper ways of destroying it.

Another priority is to ensure every producer has two alternative outlets for fallen stock so that where on-farm burial is not possible, or not wanted, another route is available. That is why Dr Grantley-Smith has been investigating systems used in other EU countries – where collection schemes run locally or nationally are common. Funding varies from part local authority, part farmer, to farmer-funded insurance type schemes.

The MLC is steering clear of the who will pay issue, leaving it to the trade bodies to negotiate. Dr Grantley-Smith understands the knacker industry has told the government it is willing to change roles and become just a collection service for fallen stock which would be forwarded to renderers. But he points out that some areas such as Scotland have few knackers, making collection costly due to the long distances involved.

Mr Peeler says NFU is not in a position to support a farmer-funded centrally operated collection scheme. "We are maintaining pressure on the government to reinstate the rendering aid, even though the government has made it quite clear it is not going to do that, nor will it contribute to collection and disposal costs."

CARCASS DISPOSAL

&#8226 Use knackers for larger stock.

&#8226 Follow CGAP for on-farm burial

&#8226 Nationwide collection schemes.