03 April 1998
Fallen stock action call is growing
By Catherine Hughes
DEMANDS are growing for Government to take urgent action to tackle the problem of fallen stock disposal, with industry accepting that there has been a huge increase in on-farm burial.
According to Bob Lawton, chairman of LASSA, the Licensed Animal Slaughter and Salvage Association, knackermen are now collecting 65% fewer dead animals from farms than they were five years ago.
He described the increasing rate of on-farm burial as a time bomb and said urgent action was needed to set up a national collection service so that animals could be disposed of safely without any risk to human health.
The increase in burials has been exacerbated by the removal of Government rendering subsidy. And he said that the number of knackers yards had dropped from 135 to 90 in the past five years, as farmers took the cheaper option of burying fallen stock on their land rather than paying the £50 a cow and £10 a sheep disposal fees that knackerers were now forced to charge:
“The frustrating thing is we already have the infrastructure here for a collection service. It needs to be well financed to operate efficiently, but MAFF has made it very clear there is no money available,” said Mr Lawton. Junior farm minister Jeff Rooker has repeatedly insisted that no other industry gets Government aid to dispose of waste.
Farming leaders, too, believe the increase in on-farm burial is unsustainable in the long term. The NFU wants the state rendering subsidy reintroduced immediately. In the meantime, it is encouraging farmers to use knackers or local hunts to dispose of carcasses instead of burying them.
Both the Environment Agency and MAFF insist there is no evidence of any problem with the burial of fallen stock, providing farmers follow MAFFs code of good agricultural practice.
For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 3-9 April, 1998