Opinion : 19/11/04

One-and-a-half cheers for the National Fallen Stock Company. The good news is that after a delay of nearly 20 months, from Monday, Britain will have a countrywide collection service.

FW has always disputed the wisdom of banning on-farm burial. At least the scheme’s belated launch will end the uncertainties that have plagued farmers since the ban was announced more than two years ago.

Less impressive are the niggling doubts that many producers harbour. Chief among them are the threat to biosecurity, questions about its reliability and cost together with its detailed provisions.

Organisers will have to work hard to win the confidence of farmers. The scheme must be perceived as a national deadstock collection service – not a disease spreading service.

What tests or trials have been conducted? We know it will cost £28/yr to join, but what will be the total cost to your business? No one can answer those questions until the collections begin.

Producers will not be allowed to criticise the scheme once they join. Carcasses can be moved around the farm only using approved means of transport. Dead hill and moorland stock must be retrieved for approved disposal whether discovered days or weeks after they fell.

Britain’s beleaguered farming community could also be forgiven for fearing that the scheme will spawn yet another authoritarian eye to over see their business. Will farmers with large numbers of deadstock be reported to DEFRA or the RSPCA?

If hunting is banned and many hunt kennels close, will the scheme be able to cope? It remains to be seen whether these issues are teething problems or fundamental flaws. For the sake of Britain”s livestock farmers we hope it is the former, not the latter.

See more