Farmers warn over carcass burial laws

FARMERS have warned of dire consequences when new laws regarding carcass disposal are introduced next month.From April 30, farmers will no longer be able to bury dead cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry on their own land, but will have to pay up to £250 per year towards a countrywide collection scheme.

FARMERS have warned of dire consequences when new laws regarding carcass disposal are introduced next month.

From April 30, farmers will no longer be able to bury dead cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry on their own land, but will have to pay up to £250 per year towards a countrywide collection scheme.

East Anglia has the largest percentage of pig and poultry farmers in the country, but does not have enough knackers' yards and rendering plants needed to cope with demand.

Herd mortality rates are currently as high as 30% among some of the region's 1.3 million pigs, owing to a wasting disease and around 5% among 125 million poultry.


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Stephen Rash, chairman of the Suffolk NFU, who owns a cattle farm near Diss, said: "There seems to be no real idea as to how people will be able to comply with the regulations. The knackers yards will physically not be able to cope with the volume of dead animals this will create. There is a serious risk of farmers being left with carcasses they are unable to dispose of."

He added that the costs of the collection scheme would be far higher than for burial.

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James Black, a National Pig Association board member and owner of a 4,000 pig farm near Stowmarket, said farmers had been cornered in a "Catch 22" situation which could see them forced to break the law.

"It is ironic that after all the problems we've had with foot-and-mouth and swine fever they are now imposing a ban on a safe disposal method," he said.

Mr Black said farmers have to deal with up to four dead animals every week – more if infection blights a herd. He has farm incinerators, but said there was still some confusion as to whether incineration would be allowed to continue because of environmental concerns.

David Barker, a pig farmer near Stowmarket added: "It is a nightmare scenario for farmers. It's a case of bringing in rules and regulations without thinking them through or giving the industry time to adapt. We have been burying animals for time immemorial in Suffolk with no problems."

"The Department for Eradicating Farmers in Rural Areas strikes again," he added.

Animal welfare minister Elliot Morley has said the scheme will not be operational for three months.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that details of a subsidised scheme for the disposal and collection of dead livestock would be sent to farmers, with a form inviting them to take part.

He said: "There has always been provision for rendering, incineration, hunt kennels and knackers yards. The collection and disposal industries have assured us they are confident there are sufficient facilities for disposal. We didn't have to set up this subsidised scheme. We are doing it because it is a good idea to help reduce costs for farmers."

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