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Welsh unions slam stock scheme

Source: FWi

07 March 2005

By Robert Davies, Wales correspondent

BOTH WELSH farming unions have made pre-lambing season appeals for action to improve the performance of the fallen stock scheme.

Carwyn Jones, Welsh Assembly's rural affairs minister, heard first hand about the problems experienced by farmers when he visited Nick and Kyra Somerfield's hill farm at Bethlehem in Carmarthenshire. "Quite simply, it has been a failure so far," Mr Somerfield told him.

"Farmers, having paid into the scheme, are having to wait up to and in excess of three weeks for carcass collection, and the standards at centres are far from being examples of good bio-security. "In remote areas such as this, where land is available, on-farm burial should still be an option without charge, other than perhaps that for an initial visit of approval."

Mr Jones was urged to meet the Farmers Union of Wales, which organised the farm visit, and other farming bodies that were jointly pressing for the Assembly to look at limiting the impact of the hunting ban in Wales.

This would allow hunt kennels to continue taking fallen stock, and control a dangerous pest.

Angry farmers attending a meeting of NFU Cymru's Meirionydd branch described the collection scheme as "shambolic".

Chairman Huw Roberts insisted that farmers had co-operated fully in implementation of the scheme, but collection delays and the sight of carcasses left lying around for many days had left them with a bitter taste in their mouths.

The scheme threatened the excellent image of livestock farming in Wales, and its lack of bio-security made a total mockery of movement restrictions that were still in place after foot and mouth. He said he was also concerned about compliance with farm assurance scheme regulations.

The meeting agreed that all interested parties should meet as a matter of urgency, and urged the Welsh Assembly to show more commitment to making the case for approval of bio-digesters to the European Commission.