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Assembly views FMD video

Source: FWi 19 November 2004 By Clive Betts

CALLS FOR a total rethink on policies for dealing with food waste have been heard by Welsh Assembly members.

The calls were made after a showing of the Northumberland Trading Standards video of the pig farm at the centre of the foot-and-mouth disease crisis in 2001.

AMs from all political parties attended the viewing of the video, arranged by Conservative AM and farmer Glyn Davies.

All who saw the footage were appalled at the state of the farm and were critical of Trading Standards officers and ministry vets who had granted Burnside Farm, Heddon-on-the-Wall, a licence to operate.

Former farm protest leader Brynle Williams - now a Conservative AM - questioned how the farm had been allowed to continue to trade.

"The video shows evidence of six to eight months of rubbish," he reckoned.

Both Mr Williams and Labour AM Tamsin Dunwoody-Kneafsey called for new thinking on disposal of waste food.

The ban on use of waste food as pig swill means that a million tonnes of unprocessed waste food is dumped on land-fill sites.

Mrs Dunwoody-Kneafsey, a smallholder who sits for Preseli Pembrokeshire, urged the assembly to press the government for a major boost for composting.

And Mr Williams, who farms in Clwyd, asked: "What problems are we storing up for ourselves when the only rule that has to be obeyed today for dumping of waste food is that it is enclosed in a black plastic bag ?"

Speaking after the video showing, former swill users echoed Mr Williams' comments.

They said that although the government aimed to have all waste food composted by 2006, capacity in the composting industry was woefully lacking.

Lynda Davies, national co-ordinator of the Association of Swill Users, said that an over-reliance on composting would lead to stockpiling of waste food.

"There's not enough capacity to cope with all of the waste food so it will have to stand.

"Disease spread from sites with piles of waste food will leave any farms nearby at huge risk of disease."

A spokesman for Northumberland Trading Standards said: "The video was first shown at Mr Waugh's trial in 2002. We have nothing to more to add."