Collection scheme for carcasses

NEW laws banning farmers from burying dead animals on their own land could see a Government subsidised collection scheme introduced in East Anglia.The European legislation, due to be introduced on May 1, has prompted widespread concern from farmers in the region who fear alternative disposal would be costly and a potential bio-security risk.

NEW laws banning farmers from burying dead animals on their own land could see a Government subsidised collection scheme introduced in East Anglia.

The European legislation, due to be introduced on May 1, has prompted widespread concern from farmers in the region who fear alternative disposal would be costly and a potential bio-security risk.

Their discontent prompted David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, to raise the issue in Parliament, demanding that the Government introduce alternative measures to assist farmers.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has now announced a "heavily subsidised" voluntary subscription scheme for the collection and disposal of fallen stock.


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The scheme would be run jointly by a central body composed of Government and industry representatives.

Farmers would pay up to £200 per year, depending on the size of their holdings, to have dead animal carcasses picked up. They would not pay per individual animal.

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The move has been welcomed by the NFU and individual farmers, although some concern still remains about the risk of transmitting infections between farms.

Mr Ruffley was also worried about smaller, tenant farmers, who may not be able to bear the extra cost, likely to be around £50 to £100.

He said: "The Government seems to have tried to compromise. Some people will say half a loaf is better than nothing. We are seeing the worst agricultural recession since the 1930s, however and any additional cost could spell disaster for the smaller tenant farmers in the county."

The Government is seeking to introduce the scheme in the next few months, but only if there is support from more than 50% of livestock holdings in the UK.

In the meantime, it has said it would expect farmers to "make every effort" to comply with the new regulations from May 1 but would enforce them "with a light touch".

Eleanor Gregg, livestock policy adviser for NFU East Anglia, encouraged farmers to sign up to the scheme before a deadline of May 6.

She said: "This is very good news for farmers and it is what we have been lobbying for. I do think we will get more than 50% take-up. We are doing our best to promote it. Farmers should recognise that by indicating support they are not signing a blank cheque. They would just be saying this is a good idea."

James Black, a pig producer who owns more than 4,000 sows near Stowmarket, said: "I hope this scheme will be very well received. We've clearly had a big problem trying to resolve this and there is still a lot of anxiety about how it can be established in a way that will protect the bio-security of farms.

"Given that the Government is clearly going to subsidise this scheme to a significant extent I believe it is now up to producers to look at how they attend to bio-security in relation to their own units – getting bins to an off site staging post, for example.

"The costs they have quoted at the moment, for pig producers at least, do represent an affordable payment."

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