National Fallen Stock Scheme -- "a bit of a shambles" -- articles and opinion
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In October 2002 DEFRA announced that the Animal By-Products Regulation, would ban the routine on-farm burial and burning of animal carcases in Member States from 30 April 2003..
"We are aware that the Regulation will increase the difficulties, both practical and financial, that the livestock industry faces in disposing of its fallen stock. Since April 2002, officials have been holding discussions with livestock and disposal industry stakeholders with the aim of developing operational arrangements and funding options for a national fallen stock disposal scheme....it is for the livestock industry, like other industries, to work out how best to deal with its waste problems and to pay the associated costs." dec9fallenstock.html
By February 2004 there were still no details of the UK collection and disposal arrangements for fallen stock and the scheme was postponed again until the Autumn. Finally, on 22 November 2004, Defra announced the Launch of the National Fallen Stock Scheme. One needs to register (#28+VAT) for the National Fallen Stock Company before gaining access to most information on the website. A page asks you to supply your Government Gateway User ID and Password. and adds Unauthorised access may constitute a criminal offence.
March 5 2009 ~ Fallen Stock Scheme - an appreciation
Email received: "I may be an exception in this but I have come to like the Fallen Stock scheme.
It is very hard to get a deep hole here (rock at 18"), unless a death pit is excavated (permanently open) or a digger available on-farm. Since this reg came in we see a lot less rats about - that said a lot of other factors are also in play, ie farms cleared of vermin in 2001 post FMD probably staying cleaner ( older farmers doing less, or with better systems), also removal of nearby poultry unit.
Losing an animal is bad enough, now at least I just have to get it the end of the track, make a phone call, get showered and go to work. The scheme is not particularly expensive (here at least), the carcass is not there waiting on my return, so I can focus on the live stock with the time I have."
21 January ~ Lembit Öpik considers that allowing the burial of carcases on farm " has done no harm to society, farming or health at any point in history"
(Hansard) "..and relaxing the legislation as it pertains to small abattoirs, we would not only re-localise the production of food, as well as reducing the burden on farmers, but take a more common-sense attitude towards farming."
February 8 2008 ~ Fallen Stock - plea for reassessment
Roger Williams (Hansard) has been trying to get some answers. Non-farming readers may not be aware that on-farm burial and burning of animal carcases on farm is an offence, (although farmers themselves can ask to be buried on their own land). The justification was that disease - and in particular BSE - could spread. In 2006 SEAC quietly admitted that the chances of BSE being present in the sheep flock were as close to zero as one could possibly wish, by which time the National Scrapie scheme had cost taxpayers at least £100 million. In spite of all Roger Williams' questions, all that emerged in essence was that Jonathan Shaw was "satisfied with the effectiveness of the arrangements for collecting and disposing of animals under the national fallen stock scheme." So on it goes.
July 2007 ~ Reply to E petition to scrap the fallen stock disposal scheme and reinstate on farm burial as a green initiative
The reply does not provide any acceptable reason for the monstrously wasteful law to continue, merely mentioning "a number of scientific opinions" and "the lack of scientific information available on how persistent the prions that cause diseases such as BSE and scrapie are in soil".
"...... The Animal By-Products Regulation is in place to protect public and animal health, and by implication is not primarily an environmental measure. Incineration and rendering provide a safe and controlled way of dealing with the disposal of animal carcasses. There are various animal health and environmental controls that incinerator operators must follow when disposing of fallen stock. These can be found on the Defra website (new window)."
May 30 2007 ~ E-petition to scrap the fallen stock disposal scheme and reinstate on farm burial as a green initiative.
Deadline to sign up by: 17 June 2007
".....As of last year though when one chicken,sheep or any animal dies on a farm, as occurs in any population naturally, a man drives 60 miles to collect it then 100 miles to a crematorium for animals where, using gas, the animal is incinerated. So for a chicken worth £3.60 in Sainsbury we burn over 100 miles of petrol, burn the gas for incineration and transport a dead animal miles from the place of death with all the associated bio security risks, as well as all the energy used to print numerous forms to be completed and trasported, read and filed. If this government is serious about green issues then it will act quickly to repeal this senseless law.."
May 21 2007 ~ Farmers face rise in costs for fallen stock
The Journal "Farmers will have to pay more to get rid of fallen stock during certain times of the year after the Government agreed to reorganise the way the scheme was subsidised. The National Fallen Stock Scheme said that because of the scheme's popularity, the amount of discount available to farmers would have to be reduced from 35pc to 10pc, although prices would drop during peak periods. But this has angered many farmers, who say that it is already too expensive to get rid of fallen stock and an increase in costs would put further pressure on their businesses...."
March 12 2007 ~ Why the fallen stock scheme is legislative madness
Dan Buglass in the Scotsman "....a blast at those who imposed the National Scrapie Plan (NSP) on the sheep industry and then followed up that nonsense up with the fallen stock scheme. Non-farming readers are probably blissfully unaware that it is an offence to bury a sheep, while it is perfectly legitimate to pack our graveyards with human remains. But that is fact. ..... the theory was that by keeping only groups one and two and slaughtering the rest, the country would soon be rid of scrapie. Cynical farmers and shepherds thought this was a load of nonsense, but they had no choice in the matter.... But towards the end of last year the government's own spongiform encephalopathy advisory committee (SEAC) ever so quietly admitted that the chances of BSE being present in the sheep flock were as close to zero as one could possibly wish. On a UK basis the implementation of the NSP has cost taxpayers at least £100 million ....
Just over two years ago Brussels, with the connivance of Whitehall, decreed that a ban was to be imposed on the burial of fallen stock on farms. .... there are now lorries running around most of the remainder of Scotland collecting fallen stock. Such movements, even of dead livestock, are dangerous, having the ability to spread disease.
About two years ago Robbie Weir, a large-scale sheep farmer in Dumfriesshire, died after a long and active life. His last wish was that he should be buried in a certain field from where he had admired a fine view of his farm. That wish was granted by the relevant authorities. It is a fair bet that Robbie will be smiling down from the celestial pastures giving two fingers to legislative madness."
June 13 2006 ~ " All it takes is one break in the chain and chaos ensues, with rotting carcasses lying uncollected for days"
Farmers Weekly interactive reports that both Welsh farming unions want a rethink of the current system for dealing with fallen stock, especially sheep. This follows the local authority's suspension of collections by Cluttons Agriculture of Wrexham, the main company operating in north Wales, in response to public health concerns about the build-up of carcasses on its site (see below)
"Arrangements were made for three other companies to take on Cluttons' National Fallen Stock Scheme collections, but unions have been inundated with calls from members about delays. .... a spokeman for the Farmers Union of WalesAlso in today's FWi, in an article by Andrew Watts, we read:
" The closure has shown how fragile the current system is. All it takes is one break in the chain and chaos ensues, with rotting carcasses lying uncollected for days. Many members of the public have expressed concern about the smell, and amazement at the madness of the burial ban."
"A review of the national fallen stock scheme and the company that administers it has found huge disparities in the prices charged to farmers, a lack of competition in some areas and reluctance by collectors to invest in their business. The report, written for DEFRA by Bob Bansback, a former strategy director at the Meat and Livestock Commission, found that enforcing the burial ban is most difficult in the sheep sector....many producers simply do not accept the burial ban. For a typical English lowland sheep breeding flock, the cost of compliance is equivalent to about 64% of the enterprise net margin. ......... Most alarming is the huge disparity charged for collecting dead lambs, which is 2200% higher in the south east than in Northern Ireland.
Measures recommended in the report include implementing best practice from other EU states."
2 June 2006 ~ 1100 producers left with no fallen stock service
Fwi ".... The collection centre at Marchwiel, operated by Clutton Agricultural, was closed by Wrexham trading standards last Thursday (25 May) after the owner of a neighbouring premises complained about the smell. On inspection, trading standards officers were confronted with six weeks' backlog of deadstock. The suspension of a fallen stock service in north Wales will frustrate farmers in the region after problems last year finding a collector to serve the area. National Fallen Stock Company board chairman Michael Seals has written to the 1100 affected farmers informing them of the situation but, he said, there was nothing else the company could do other than suggest they speak to their local animal health office."
13 February 2006 ~ "problems should be history"
FWi "...Disposing of fallen stock caused problems for many farmers last year, as some collectors employed by the National Fallen Stock Company failed to cope with demand over lambing. But, according to NFSCo chairman Michael Seals, those problems should be history as collectors have worked hard to avoid a repeat of the scenario of dead animals lying on farm for weeks.....Cluttons, the collection company, has also stopped collecting OTMS cattle and improved the way they plan farm visits. With lambing already under way the average waiting time is currently 1.4 days, compared with several weeks in 2005...."
30 September 2005 ~ Don't ignore the burial ban - National Fallen Stock Company
FWi ".....The problems experienced by sheep farmers in north Wales during lambing had been down to the fact that it was a huge area, with a lot of sheep and only one significant collector. "The scheme isn't perfect because the infrastructure we are working with isn't perfect," he said, "But I'd give it eight out of 10. We've got most of it right, even if our limitations are frustrating." Mr Seals said the NFSCo was encouraging its 141 collectors to develop a bulk collection system which should reduce pressure on the service. Some collectors were resistant as they needed to invest in vehicles capable of carrying the collection bins, he said. But he hoped that at least 20% would sign up. One collector that has already agreed to do this is Wrexham-based Clutton Agricultural which operates across north Wales. ......"
8 July 2005 ~ Bulk collections for fallen stock to commence
FWI "...THE NATIONAL Fallen Stock Company is on the verge of announcing that collectors will be allowed to make bulk collections from farms from Jan 2006. Producers will be able to store fallen stock in Dolav bins large sealed boxes so collectors only need to visit the farm every few days. The NFSCo hopes the move will help improve the service offered to livestock producers particularly sheep farmers, who in some areas claimed that the service they received during lambing was unacceptable. The issue of how to sort out the fallen stock problems in Wales was also the subject of a 90-minute discussion in the House of Commons last Weds (Jun 29 2005). ....."
4 May 2005 ~ Farmers Weekly reports that farm leaders say the National Fallen Stock Company is not to blame for the burial ban
"Meurig Raymond, NFU vice president, said while he recognised that there have been problems with regard to the collection service, they have not been the fault of the NFSco. ".... there needs to be an early government review of the scheme and aspects of its funding in order to ensure that the same problems do not reoccur in the next twelve months."
27 April 2005 ~ a specialised plastic pallet called a Dolav
The surreal decree that no animal may now be buried on its farm has provided the opportunity for one enterprising company : "Internet-based vehicle scheduling helps farms overcome dead animal disposal problem" complete with "a specialised plastic pallet called a Dolav" in which to store the bodies. Waste Per Se specialises in the collection and treatment of agricultural wastes and animal by-products. Its subsidiaries, WRE Collection Services and WRE Disposal Services, are going through a period of unprecedented operational growth .... See www.responsesource.com
27 March 2005 ~A law that stinks to high heaven
Booker's Notebook (see below) Graham Morris, a farmer near Builth Wells in mid-Wales, is an angry man. Like thousands of other sheep farmers, as the lambing season approaches its height, he is confronting for the first time the horrendous implications of one of the greatest regulatory shambles Brussels has ever created.
Large numbers of lambs inevitably die or are stillborn on the hills, but farmers are no longer permitted to bury them or leave them to be eaten by foxes and birds. Under the EC's Animal By-Products Regulation, 1774/2002, all "fallen stock" must be gathered up and placed in sealed containers, to be collected by contractors, at a cost of up to #50 an animal, then transported, sometimes hundreds of miles, to be rendered down or incinerated in a licensed plant.
This scheme is so hopelessly impractical that for nearly two years, in defiance of EC law, ministers turned a blind eye and allowed farmers to continue disposing of their stock by natural means, as they have since time immemorial. But this year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its Scottish and Welsh counterparts are insisting the law must be obeyed, on pain of fines up to #5,000 for each offence..." Read in full
8 March 2005 ~ " 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."
Fallen Stock scheme "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..." Farmers Weekly Welsh unions slam stock scheme
25 January 2005 ~ "a safe and viable way to handle animal carcasses on the farm"
"...Although composting has been around for a long time, it is only in the last five years or so that it has been seen as a safe and viable way to handle animal carcasses on the farm...animals that die from contagious diseases have little chance of affecting other farms if they are composted on site. " Times Argus, Vermont, US on Sunday 23 January 2005.
Simple and effective. However, since May 2003, under the EU's Animal By-Products Regulation, it has been a criminal offence for farmers in this country to do any such thing.
December 2004 ~ Hidden cost of the hunt ban
Booker's Notebook "Two weeks ago, on November 22, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs finally managed to launch its National Fallen Stock Scheme.
Since May 2003, under the EU's Animal By-Products Regulation, it has been a criminal offence for farmers to bury dead livestock on their land. Until now it has been impossible for farmers to comply with the new law because Defra had no system in place whereby their dead cows, lambs and chickens could be taken away for disposal. Even now, Defra admits, the only way that its hopelessly ramshackle system can work at all is by relying on the full co-operation of all the premises registered to assist in disposing of dead stock.
Fifty per cent of these registered premises, as you may have guessed, are hunt kennels. If these are forced to close when hunting becomes illegal in February, Defra's system will collapse. This is what they call joined-up government."
November 2004~ "...perhaps they are right about mad cow disease crossing the species; it's landed at Defra!"From NPA Forum Nigel Rowe November 23
".....I have spent an entire day trying to make sense of the information given by the helpline.
Firstly I was given names of people that didn't take pigs, then names of companies over 250 miles away, then quoted prices that brought the reaction "You must be joking" from the operator concerned, finally when I did find someone the costs incurred taking into account my annual subscription came out 20% higher than what I am already paying!
Given that they also refused to "not record my phone call" as is our right in this country, I fear for anyone who has no option but to use the scheme which should in principal be a right and proper solution to this government's interference.
Everybody I have spoken to has the same fear of being thrown to the dogs if you are unlucky enough to have a great need for the service.
I sincerely hope their fears are ill founded.
Whilst on the subject of fallen stock can someone please tell me how one farmer can be paid #50k by Defra to compost rotting meat from the catering trade yet his neighbour has to pay #60 to Defra to remove a sow from his farm?
It's beyond me, perhaps they are right about mad cow disease crossing the species; it's landed at Defra!"
October 2004 ~ National Scheme finally to start at the end of November
Collection scheme will finally start operating on Nov 22. Farmers will be able to register for the scheme, which has been devised by the National Fallen Stock Company, from that date and collections will start the same day. In broad terms, it will operate on a pay-as-you-go basis once producers have paid their #28 annual subscription.
Farmers will be able to choose their preferred approved collector from a list provided by the NFSC. Collectors will normally be expected to collect carcasses within 48 hours. See FWi
Aug 19 2004 ~EU approves UK fallen stock plan - "exact date is not yet available"
Source: FWi 18 August 2004 "Brussels has given the green light for the UK to introduce a pay-as-you-go national fallen stock collection scheme. Michael Seals, chairman of the National Fallen Stock Company, told FARMERS WEEKLY on Wed (Aug 18) that the NFSC's plans had been approved by the EU. "This is good news. A major hurdle has been overcome," said Mr Seals, a farmer from Derbyshire. A board meeting of the NFSC was planned for early September and more details of the scheme should follow that, he said. The idea is that the scheme will be available to farms of all sizes and type if they pay and annual registration fee of about #25. The scheme is expected to start in the autumn, although an exact date is not yet available."
May 19 ~ Euro rules raise fresh doubt over hunt ban
Cheshire on Line "....The Cheshire Hunt is among those which feed the carcasses to its hounds. Many others both pick up the dead animals and dispose of them. A Defra spokeswoman .... said: "Hunt kennels clearly have a useful role in disposing of fallen stock in some areas, but the quantity of material is relatively low compared to rendering and incineration." The spokeswoman admitted an industry-run disposal scheme, costing of up to #200m a year according to farm size, was promised last year but was not yet up and running. Westminster insiders expect the Hunting Bill to be brought back this summer, to rally Labour's troops after the expected drubbing in next month's local and European elections. MPs voted overwhelmingly last July for a total ban in hunting, but the amended Bill was "talked out" by the Lords in the autumn. Tony Blair has said would use the Parliament Act to overturn the Lords, if peers continue to defy the will of the elected Commons by blocking the Bill." Read in full
May 18 ~ Stock burial scheme set for autumn
The Western Mail Organisers of the long- awaited scheme to collect and dispose of dead farm animals say it is still not ready. But the National Fallen Stock Company aims to iron out the problems and says it will be ready in the autumn - 18 months after it became illegal to bury dead livestock on farmland. "The one thing we want to make perfectly plain is that the scheme will not be perfect," said NFS company chairman Michael Seals....Arwyn Owen, director of policy at the Farmers' Union of Wales, sounded a cautious note, pointing out one of the two reasons why the scheme was postponed earlier this year still applies. "This is the third time we have had an announcement on this scheme and European state aid approval is still not forthcoming," said Mr Owen.
"Unless this does happen now in October it will lose all credibility because there have been so many false dawns."
The new plans mean farmers can either make their own arrangements to dispose of dead animals or pay an administration fee - estimated at around #25 - to join the government-subsidised scheme. Farmers will be able to choose their preferred collector, and pay costs by monthly variable direct debit according to the amount of stock collected the previous month...."
May 13 2004 ~ New Scheme to Dispose of Dead Farm Stock
A new scheme to enable farmers to dispose of dead stock will not be perfect, according to organisers. But the company behind proposals for the new-look National Fallen Stock Scheme, announced today, aims to iron out any initial problems and ultimately reduce costs because of market competition.
A previous scheme was delayed amid difficulties with treating all species and farms fairly, and was deemed to have high administration costs.
The new plans mean farmers can either make their own arrangements to dispose of dead animals or pay an administration fee estimated at around #25 to join the government-subsidised scheme.
The new proposals, which aim to ensure collectors comply with strict biosecurity conditions, are planned to start in the autumn and will cover the collection of all livestock.
Farmers will be able to choose their preferred collector, and pay costs by monthly variable direct debit according to the amount of stock collected the previous month.
Chairman of the board of the National Fallen Stock Scheme, Michael Seals, said: The one thing we want to make perfectly plain is that the scheme will not be perfect.
He added, while the principles would be fixed, it was open to modification and review in the light of operational findings. He added: I am pleased to say that we have received support from the major livestock organisations throughout the UK for this approach.
Much work needs to be done between now and when the scheme is due to start in the Autumn and we know that we will also need to convince the European Commission that the scheme will comply with state aid rules. However, with continued goodwill and co-operation of government and industry we are confident this can be achieved.
The EU Animal By-products Regulation, which banned the routine on-farm burial and burning of animal carcasses, came into force in May last year. The scheme does not apply to notifiable diseases, such as foot and mouth, which have established protocols farmers must follow.
Defra and the Devolved Administrations will contribute some #20 million towards the company, phased over three years, after which the company aims to be self-sufficient.
Animal health minister Ben Bradshaw welcomed the new proposals, and said: I am pleased at the progress the Board has made in delivering a workable scheme.
The Government remains committed to funding the scheme as previously announced and we look forward to delivery of a successful scheme this autumn.
May 9 2004 ~ The shambles of Defra's"fallen stock" disposal scheme
Booker's Notebook "....Since May 1 last year, it has been a criminal offence for farmers to continue their age-old, harmless practice of burying fallen stock on the farm. Yet with no other arrangements in place to collect the stock, including millions of dead chickens, most farmers have been forced, with Defra's tacit consent, to break the law.
Defra has made forlorn attempts to install a "national disposal scheme", even setting up a Fallen Stock Company to organise it, although EC rules on "illegal state aid" limit the subsidies available to pay for it to a hopelessly inadequate #10 million (rules which France ignores). But because Britain still has not enough incineration capacity, Defra has concluded that its scheme can only work if hunts continue their traditional service to farmers by collecting larger animals....
The shambles of Defra's disposal scheme can be illustrated by the experience of Andrew Brown, a Leicestershire farmer, who, like any sheep farmer, recently lost a good few lambs during the lambing season. When he rang Defra, they said they could only collect sheep more than 18 months old and which had not been dead more than 24 hours. But they were closed from Friday to Sunday. Although they could not help with his lambs, Mr Brown did also have three ewes to dispose of.
Next day a lorry arrived from 30 miles away to take them to Stratford-on-Avon, where they were put on another truck to be taken to a renderer 150 miles away in Exeter. Here their heads were removed and trucked back to Stratford, to be tested by Defra scientists, under more EC rules, for scrapie.
Such madness would only be multiplied by a ban on hunting, leaving Defra's scheme wholly unworkable. ...... " Read in full
April 29 2004 ~".... he told me that he hoped that the fallen stock collection scheme that the Government were planning would be up and running in time for the new year..."
Hansard (Andrew George) "The Minister said earlier that it was absolutely paramount that biosecurity measures should be put in place and that his Department placed a high priority on that issue. What priority does it place on fallen stock, in respect of the animal by-products order? When we debated the order in Committee on 15 September last year, he told me that he hoped that the fallen stock collection scheme that the Government were planning would be up and running in time for the new year. In a written answer to me on 12 January, he said:
"We hope to be able to make an announcement on the start date shortly."[Official Report, 12 January 2004; Vol. 416, c. 495W.]In fact, the scheme might not be in place until the autumn, at the earliest. What does that tell us about the priority being given to this important matter by the Department? ...." Read whole debate
April 7 2004 ~ "The Government are not obliged to provide a National scheme..."
Fallen Stock - Owen Paterson asked what provisions had been made for the disposal of fallen sheep during the current lambing season, in the absence of the Fallen Stock Subscription Scheme and what advice (Margaret Beckett) gives to farmers who are banned from burying fallen stock on their land by the Animal By-Products Regulation 1774/2002/EC and who have no other means of disposal.
Mr. Bradshaw: "The Government are not obliged to provide a National scheme under the Animal By-Products Regulations, nor is one an essential pre-requisite to farmers being able to dispose of their livestock in a legitimate manner. Farmers are expected to make use of existing local outlets for the disposal of fallen stock i.e. knacker yards, hunt kennels and maggot farms, use on-farm incinerators or make arrangements directly with rendering or incineration plants. However, we have asked local authorities to look sympathetically at individual cases where farmers have made every effort to comply but have faced genuine difficulties in doing so."
Feb 25 2004 ~ Fallen Stock - the government should use the opportunity of a pan-European review to force a more common sense approach to the regulation
FWI " introduction of the scheme has been delayed until autumn 2004. ... Lib dem shadow DEFRA secretary Andrew George said the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had been dragging its feet for months on the issue..... ..."
DEFRA webpage Animal by-products: Fallen stock scheme questions & answers
"Q: Will farmers be allowed to bury stock on-farm until the Scheme is up and running?
A: We would expect farmers to make every effort to dispose of their fallen stock according to the regulations. However, enforcement agencies are being made aware of this change in the timetable for launch of the Scheme and the practical difficulties this may create for farmers in complying with the rules in some circumstances. Previous advice requesting them to take a pragmatic approach to enforcement will remain in place." (presumably then, yes)
- Feb 20 2003 ~ "....... the remains of a sheep." Boris Johnson in the Telegraph
- Is this the future for carcass disposal?
- Memorandum to the Secretary of State for DEFRA from the Women's Institute and others
- Lords Hansard; March 2003
- Letter from Lawrence Wright March 2003
- Booker's Notebook - April 2003
- Panic at Defra over waste disposal rules
- The Effect of Government Policies on the Communities and Economy of Rural Britain. July 2003 Richard Mawdsley
- Fallen Stock and EU Animal By-Products Regulation - Countryside Alliance. An interesting chronology going up to the summer of 2003
- Burial ban concerns raised with Minister March 2003
- Chaos over introduction of fallen stock rules May 2003
- BAN ON FARM BURIALS BEGINS
- July 28 2003 ~ New money found for fallen stock scheme - and DEFRA's 50% take-up demand is dropped DEFRA explains the delay Animal by-products: Fallen stock scheme questions & answers
Feb 20 2003 ~ "....... the remains of a sheep."
Boris Johnson today in the Telegraph on the nonsense of the new rules It is amazing how quickly this species is reunited with the ground that nurtured it. The crows wade in. The foxes do their stuff. Soon there is nothing left but a litter of bones on the grass, tufts of wool, and a green-toothed skull which you can take home for the entertainment of children. That is how things have long been done in the combes and brakes of Exmoor, though, like so many other perfectly natural things, this custom is illegal. If the ramblers come across a sheep corpse on your land, they can turn you in. You can be fined. So most farmers have long since been in the habit of burning or burying their dead sheep.
Now, unbelievably, even that punctilious practice is about to be banned. Under the EU Animal By-products regulation of April 30, 2003, you will not be allowed to employ the foxes to eat the sheep; you will not be allowed to bury the beast on your own land. You will have to pay anything between £5 and £10 to have the cadaver removed by an official dead sheep remover.
And why? You might guess that it was because Labour wants to ban hunting, and many farmers rely on the hunt to remove fallen stock. But no: the answer is that the EU's Scientific Veterinary Committee (the gentlemen who banned British beef, and almost wiped out an industry, when it was perfectly safe to eat) have decided that there is some risk to health.
However they calculate that risk, it must be vanishingly small next to the risk of contagion from an itinerant van, proceeding from farm to farm with a cargo of corpses, many of them diseased. You will see how demented this new ruling is when you consider that the Law of England and Wales still permits you to bury your relatives, whole and entire, at the bottom of the garden. Why on earth can't you do the same thing with sheep?....." Read on
IS THIS THE FUTURE FOR CARCASS DISPOSAL?LUCY COCKCROFT
09:00 - 27 February 2003
This gruesome scene outside a French farm could soon become reality for the Westcountry when new EU directives come into force this spring.
The directives, effective from May 1, will ban the burial of all casualty farm stock.
Britain is now the only EU member state that still allows this practice. The alternatives to the burial method are not only more expensive, but potentially more hazardous to both human and animal health.
This picture shows how in France pig carcasses are piled high in a large wheelie-bin, and left at the side of the road awaiting removal.
Animal burial on the continent has already been replaced by a fallen stock collection service - one of the possible solutions facing Britain's farmers.
Anthony Gibson, NFU South West regional director, said: "Europe has passed a regulation which says burial is going to be banned, so we will have to have a collection service.
"The photograph shows what happens in France. Along come the flesh vans to pick up the bins, with dead pigs' legs hanging out of the side. In terms of disease spread we are very concerned.
The implications are that this is something British farms are going to have to do."
In the wake of the foot and mouth crisis, this solution seems shocking and many of the region's farming experts fail to see why it is necessary.
Mr Gibson said: "On site burial is good because the diseases stay on the farm and don't travel. It is also the most natural and sustainable method of recycling organic material.
"This photograph adds ammunition to the arguments of those who say that stock burials should not be banned."
But South East Cornwall MP Colin Breed, a member of the Department of the Environment's select committee, says there is a need to ban the burials.
"The problem is that water tables have risen in recent years which means there are less places to dispose of stock and meet biosecurity measures. Burial remains will get into the water."
His concerns are that the British Government has taken too long to implement an acceptable alternative before the ban is in place.
He said: "Britain is late getting its act together, as ever. This is just like the fridge mountains, the Government has done nothing to prepare us for the directives.
"We need an effective way to dispose of animals within the new directive, or we will get the horrors shown in this photograph, and it's totally unacceptable."
In recent years the Government has been very concerned with the subject of biosecurity on British farms, far more so than many other European governments.
Mr Breed said: "French biosecurity measures are nothing like what we have had implemented since the foot and mouth crisis.
"France did not suffer from foot and mouth disease like us, so their regulations are not as stringent and costly as ours. If we need to pick up dead animals from more than one farm we would have to disinfect the vans after each collection."
Ian Johnson, South West NFU spokesman, echoed Mr Breed's sentiments. He says he is worried how, at this late stage, the Government can come up with a solution that is both cost effective and in line with biosecurity measures.
He said: "We all know the Government is unprepared for most contingencies. Politicians have a tendency to legislate without thinking of the consequences. The Government makes a big song and dance about biosecurity measures but the new system will require the animals to be put out for collection.
"The thing is, we need suitable regulations but they are not in place. The Government has buried its head in the sand by not coming up with any viable scheme as yet. The legislation is coming to us in barely two months' time. It is a big problem.
"The NFU calls for the burial ban to be delayed until an affordable and acceptable collection service provided by the Government is put into place. We are worried about the biosecurity implications and the cost implications for farmers."
March 21 2003 - House of Lords
Lord Livsey of Talgarth asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will place a moratorium on the European Union animal by-products regulation relating to the disposal of animal carcasses until such time as adequate collection and disposal facilities are in place and accessible to the farming community.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the Government will not be seeking a moratorium relating to the disposal of animal carcasses. The collection and disposal industries advise that there is already sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on on-farm burial.
Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, will the Minister acknowledge that dead farm animals have been buried for the past two millennia in Britain? Given the current problems which the farming unions predict will result in chaos after the 1st May deadline, will he take urgent action to provide a free disposal service and a dispensation for burial for remote upland areas in Wales, south-west England and the north of England?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, farm burial has been a feature of farming for longer than I can remembertwo millennia is almost certainly correct. However, it presents environmental problems for watercourses and in terms of animal disease, which is why the European legislation was introduced. The animal by-products regulation will apply from 1st May. As I indicated the other day in response to a different Question, the Government have been trying since last April to discuss the issue with the industry in order to try to establish a system of collection and disposal. The capacity is there, as I said in my initial Answer, but the industry is reluctant to put any of its own resources into providing that disposal system. So any failure to have a fully operational system as from 1st May lies at the door of the industry, not the Government.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, why is it permissible for human beings to be buried but not animals?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, by and large, human beings are buried in coffins and in land that has been limed. That prevents the type of seepage about which we are concerned that occurs when there is a substantial quantity of animal burial. If the same precautions had to be taken for animal burial as for human burial, the cost to farmers would be considerably greater than that required by the directive.
Lord Renton: My Lords, bearing in mind that incineration has proved a respectful and successful way of disposing of human remains, would it not be one of the best ways of disposing of animal remains?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, incineration is possible under the regulation. What is not possible is on-farm burial.
Lord Tanlaw: My Lords, a number of those who farm the hill and upland areas in places such as Dumfriesshire will be very disappointed by the Minister's Answer. The moratorium would, I believe, be a suitable way of filling in the period between what is available and what is not available. Since the local hunt has been disbanded, we have had no real service to remove fallen stock. I have just come from a meeting at a fish farm on a river in the south of England. It has exactly the same problems, with no way of getting rid of fallen fish stock. Can the noble Lord help in this area?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, we have discussed the issue with the various elements of the industry, and both the collection organisations and the disposal organisations have always indicated that there is sufficient capacity to cope with the additional problem. The issue is how it is organised and who pays for it. The Government are prepared to put forward £30 million towards the estimated £50 million cost. But some of that cost has to rest on the farmers themselves. Any failure to have the system fully in place as of 1st May rests very much with the farming organisations.
Lord Monro of Langholm: My Lords, at the end of October, the Minister said that he would urgently examine the issue in the hope of finding a solution. Is he aware that, come 1st May, in practical terms, there will not be the facilities to uplift fallen stock and that farmers will not be allowed to bury the stock on their farms? What answer should he give farmers?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the answer that I would give to farmersand I think that it probably needs to be communicated directly to farmers rather than through their organisations at the momentis that the facilities are there. The way of organising the facilities would also be there were the farming industry to accept some element of the costs. The TSE disposal arrangements would be made available for that duty: that is the £30 million and the small additional sum that the Government would be prepared to provide to set up such a system. However, the farming industry itself, through its representatives, is refusing to have even the minimum levy to ensure an industrial contribution. It is not a question of logistics or of the facilities not being available. It is a question of the industry being prepared to take its responsibilities seriously.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, it may be a requirement that human bodies be buried in coffins in consecrated land and in land belonging to public graveyards, but is the Minister certain that the same rules apply to people buried in private land?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am not sure what customs prevail in the area of Avebury. However, in recent years, by and large, private burial has had to be approved by the authorities. I accept that the requirements for such burial may not be exactly the same as those for burial in consecrated land and graveyards, but they are nevertheless considerably more precautionary than those for burying sheep half way up a hillwhere the possibility of seepage into the watercourse is very substantial and is therefore a much higher risk than any form of human burial of which I am aware.
The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I declare my interest as a livestock farmer. The Minister mentioned the £30 million that DEFRA currently spends. When the Minister in another place used that figure, he said that it was for transmissible spongiform encephalopathy monitoring under the over-30-month scheme and for a variety of other reasons. If the Ministry is going to pay for the collection of all adult cattle, which falls within the provisions of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy regulations, how much money will be left over for organising the start-up of collections?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I will not try to follow the noble Duke in spelling out the regulations. The collection system already exists under the TSE regulations and it applies only to cattle. The point is that, under these regulations, we are extending the same facility to the collection of fallen stock including animals other than cattle. Therefore, the facility will be sufficient, provided that it is topped up by the other £20 million that we are seeking and provided also that a communications system is established. In addition, there is the facility for on-farm incineration.
Letter from Lawrence Wright March 2003Dear Sirs,I support your fight for a fair deal on fallen stock.It seems absurd to ban the on-farm burial of fallen stock and unreasonable to do so without a safe, practical and affordable alternative. Lord Whitty has agreed in parliament [19th March] that the burial of fallen stock on farm has been going on for at least two millennia. He stated that it must now be banned because "it presents environmental problems for watercourses and in terms of animal disease, which is why the European legislation was introduced."What has changed recently to make this a danger to watercourses and "in terms of" animal disease so significant that it must be banned?When questioned on these points he referred to "the type of seepage about which we are concerned that occurs when there is a substantial quantity of animal burial." But normal on-farm burial does not involve "a substantial quantity of animal burial": particularly not on farms with low stocking rates [farms complying with extensification payment schemes, for example] and there are clear guidelines for the avoidance of danger to watercourses. Both stocking rates and the following of the guidelines are as capable of being inspected for compliance and enforcement as will be the arrangements for collection or incineration.Where the stock graze the pasture and drop their dung on it, there seems to be no logical reason why they should not be buried where they have lived. Will we next be required to follow our animals with poop-a-scoops and collect up the dung for transport to a central disposal plant too?This rushed abandoning of a natural practice which has been used acceptably and successfully for two millennia, will create a range of new and potentially offensive environmental dangers. The transport of fallen stock, farm to farm will tend to increase rather than decrease the risk of spreading disease, consume more fossil fuels and risk offensive sights and smells being inflicted on the public. The concentration of the corpses at the collection points will ensure that there will be problems of "seepage" and smell. The natural process of decay and reabsorbsion of the animal corpse on the farm where it lived will become an ecologically expensive industrial problem: a mountain made from a molehill.I suggest that a derogation should be made for farms with closed flocks and low stocking rates: and that the ban should not be imposed on any farm without the provision of arrangements which are workable and inexpensive.Yours faithfully,Lawrence WrightMiddle Campscott FarmLeeIlfracombeDevon EX34 8LS
First they gave us the 'fridge mountain', littering the countryside with dumped freezer cabinets. Now stand by for the 'dead animal mountain', as farmers face a new law which threatens to litter roadside verges with the corpses of livestock they are no longer allowed to bury on their own land.
And the cause is the same. A diktat from Brussels, which Defra never wanted, which is impossible to comply with except at ludicrous cost, yet which Defra's officials will now enforce with all the zeal for which they are legendary. ... 2mar26muck.html
Panic at Defra over waste disposal rules Booker's Notebook April 2003
Crisis talks were taking place last week at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs over a Brussels regulation due to come into force in less than three weeks' time. This threatens to inflict such chaos on almost every sector of Britain's food industry as to make last year's blunder over fridges seem trivial by comparison.
Margaret Beckett's Defra officials only recently began to wake up to the implications of the "animal by-products regulation", 1774/2002, which will affect nearly a million businesses, from farmers and supermarkets to zoos and circuses, and which in practice is so unworkable that they have already had to plead with Brussels for permission to delay implementing some of its more damaging requirements until, at the latest, 2005.
Supposedly designed to protect human and animal health, this unbelievably cumbersome 95-page regulation lays down complex new procedures under which any "animal waste", including meat, fish and eggs, can no longer be landfilled but must either be incinerated or "pressure-cooked" (rendered) before it can be put into the ground, composted or turned into what is called "biogas". Farmers can no longer bury dead stock on their farms. Supermarkets can no longer send millions of pre-packed meals to landfill when they have passed their sell-by date. Abattoirs can no longer sell blood to be spread on fields as a natural fertiliser.
Defra itself admits that businesses "directly affected by the Regulation" include 200,000 livestock producers, 8,300 food manufacturing premises, 411,000 catering outlets, 35,000 retail outlets, 662 abattoirs, 109 petfood plants, 293 hunt kennels, 35 maggot farms, 93 zoos and one circus. Caught out by the speed with which the regulation was rushed through, Defra's officials have not even published it as British law. Instead, they expect every farmer and market stallholder to consult the Brussels website, before reading the attendant Defra regulation which informs them that any infringement can be punished with an unlimited fine or two years in prison.
What the Brussels and Whitehall officials overlooked was that there is simply no system in place to make the law workable. Britain's 14 industrial incinerators are already working flat out. Farmers, no longer allowed to bury "fallen stock", are now expected to put dead lambs into wheelie bins or pay up to £250 for a dead cow to be trucked 100 miles to the nearest rendering plant (every detail of each transaction being recorded in triplicate to provide an "audit trail").
For supermarkets, with millions of pre-packaged meat products to dispose of, the problem is worse, because rendering plants cannot take packaging, so that every unwanted chicken tikka will have to be separated from its wrapping. Although Defra blithely estimated the cost of all this at £100 million, it soon became clear the true cost will be many times higher - the NFU estimates that removing dead farm animals alone will cost £72 million - and that a whole new industry must be created just to carry out all the transporting and separating.
At least the supermarkets have persuaded Mrs Beckett's officials that the system is unworkable until Britain has built dozens more huge incinerators, with chimneys up to 320 feet high, and therefore Brussels has granted a "transitional" exemption for packaged waste until 2005. But for hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses, the new law will still come into effect on May 1, with results which for many will be catastrophic. Some of the worst hit, according to Richard Ali of the British Retailing Consortium, will be small butchers' shops or farmers' markets which, in disposing of a few pounds of fat or offal trimmed off their joints of meat, may incurbills of hundreds of pounds for transportation costs to a renderer.
Faced with the likelihood that such astronomic costs will force small farmers and abattoirs out of business, Defra's only response is that it "is for the livestock industry, like other industries, to work out how best to deal with its waste problems and to pay their associated costs" - even though this "problem" is one created solely by Brussels and Defra themselves. This could not be better demonstrated than by the fact that "animal products" in domestic and most catering waste, such as from pubs and restaurants, are exempted. These will continue to be landfilled in huge quantities as if nothing had changed.
7 The on-farm burial of fallen stock. A policy imposed by the E.U. and implemented by our Government before putting in place an alternative method of disposal. One proposal is a "national carcass collection scheme"; part funded by the farmers, on a sliding scale based on acreage, the remainder by the taxpayer. No indication has been given as to how long carcasses will lie around, rotting, before collection. Nor, does much attention appear to have been paid to the bio-security risks involved; wagons driving around the countryside, from farm to farm, collecting potentially diseased bodies to carry an undisclosed distance to an incineration plant. The very risk that the "The Six-day movement order" was intended to counter. Whatever the final solution to the problem, the cost will fall heavily on both the taxpayer and the farmer. There are more communicable diseases buried in churchyards every year, with the ensuing leaching into the groundwater, than in any corner of a farmer's field.
Burial ban concerns raised with Minister
NFU Scotland President John Kinnaird today met with Scotland's Rural
Development Minister Ross Finnie to raise a number of issues of importance
to Scotland's farming industry.
Of immediate concern are the consequences of the implementation of a ban on
burying animals on-farm without the establishment of a collection and
disposal scheme. The EU-wide ban on burying fallen stock will come into
force on 1 May 2003.
Speaking after the meeting this afternoon, NFUS President John Kinnaird
said: "The lack of any information on a collection and disposal scheme is
extremely worrying. I stressed to the Minister today that the ban on the
on-farm burial of farm animals from 1 May meant that such a scheme was
"NFUS members are extremely concerned at the lack of progress on a
collection and disposal scheme and the Executive must deal with this problem
with the utmost urgency. We are only seven weeks away from a burial ban.
Industry stakeholders have provided potential components of a scheme but
there has been no indication of the Executive's willingness to implement
"The Minister is keen to pursue a scheme on a GB basis, but if DEFRA
continues to show its unwillingness to tackle this issue, then the pump
priming money the Minister committed to at our AGM last week must be used on
a Scottish scheme.
"We are way behind many other EU countries in dealing with this issue. Time
is running out and we need a clear signal from the Executive as to how it
plans to deal with fallen stock in this country."http://icnewcastle.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0107farming/page.cfm?objectid=12999738&method=full&siteid=50081&headline=Chaos%20over%20introduction%20of%20fallen%20stock%20rules
Chaos over introduction of fallen stock rules
By The Journal May 26 2003
With less than a week to go for farmers to sign up to Defra's
proposed subscription scheme for fallen stock, the Liberal Democrat shadow
rural affairs secretary has urged Government to postpone the deadline until
the scheme is ready to put in place.
Andrew George has written to Secretary of State Margaret
Beckett, after reports suggested that only one third of livestock farmers
have signed up so far.
They only have until May 28 to do so.
Under current plans, unless 50pc of eligible farmers sign up,
the scheme will not go ahead.
Mr George said: "Defra complain that farmers haven't signed up
to the stock collection scheme but the Department's dithering over its
organisation of the scheme is at the root of the problem.
"The burial ban is simply unenforceable until the official
regulation has been laid before Parliament. And as the stock collection
scheme will not be ready until August at the earliest the Government cannot
expect farmers to foot the bill for delays which could have been avoided by
"Some farmers have told me that they have received two letters
from Defra, while others have been asked to join despite giving up livestock
farming or retiring altogether.
"The subscription deadline must be put back to at least July,
giving the Department time to sort itself out, check that its benchmark is
the right one and consult the industry."
BAN ON FARM BURIALS BEGINS
PETER HALL FARMING EDITOR
09:00 - 01 May 2003
From today all livestock burials on farms have been banned by the
Government - a move labelled by a Westcountry farming leader as
"absolutely barmy". The agricultural community is angry that the
European legislation was not opposed by the British Government - and
that the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs only
finalised arrangements for fallen stock collection three weeks ago.
The service, which will see Defra paying the lion's share of collection,
will not be in place for some time. In the meantime, farmers will have
to arrange for renderers, knackers and hunt kennels to pick up fallen
stock. The age-old system of on-farm burial of carcasses has been banned
to bring England and Wales into line with the EU Animal By-products
"As regulations go, this is one of the barmiest," said Anthony Gibson,
South West director of the National Farmers' Union. "I suppose one can
just about understand the desire of the food safety bureaucrats to have
third-party verification of the disposal of every single bovine carcass.
But sheep or pigs? What conceivable risk can there be in burying their
July 28 2003 ~ New money found for fallen stock scheme - and DEFRA's 50% take-up demand is dropped
"The fallen stock scheme for farmers, proposed by the Government last spring, is back on track and will start operating from next January. The national scheme for the collection and disposal of fallen stock from farms will be voluntary and jointly financed by subscriptions from farmers and a 310 million Government contribution in the first year.It is Defra's response to the European Union's Animal By-Products regulation, which banned the routine on-farm burial of animal carcasses from May this year.When the scheme was first proposed Defra said it could only work if 50per cent of livestock farmers signed up to join. But by the deadline only 34 per cent had signed up officially - and the ensuing row saw claims by farmers that Defra had not sent application forms to the right people and had also failed to take into account that farmers might each have several holding numbers for parcels of land and would, naturally, only be applying for one.Now more money has been found and the scheme is back - the only difference being that Defra has a new category of large livestock farms, which will be expected to pay more." Western Morning News link
Graham Morris, a farmer near Builth Wells in mid-Wales, is an angry man. Like thousands of other sheep farmers, as the lambing season approaches its height, he is confronting for the first time the horrendous implications of one of the greatest regulatory shambles Brussels has ever created.
Large numbers of lambs inevitably die or are stillborn on the hills, but farmers are no longer permitted to bury them or leave them to be eaten by foxes and birds. Under the EC's Animal By-Products Regulation, 1774/2002, all "fallen stock" must be gathered up and placed in sealed containers, to be collected by contractors, at a cost of up to #50 an animal, then transported, sometimes hundreds of miles, to be rendered down or incinerated in a licensed plant.
This scheme is so hopelessly impractical that for nearly two years, in defiance of EC law, ministers turned a blind eye and allowed farmers to continue disposing of their stock by natural means, as they have since time immemorial. But this year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its Scottish and Welsh counterparts are insisting the law must be obeyed, on pain of fines up to #5,000 for each offence.
Farmers must thus wait up to five weeks to have carcases collected, often by vehicles so filthy that they make a mockery of hygiene or "biosecurity". As Mr Morris says, this "not only risks spreading infection among farms, but could be a hazard to human health; for instance by exposing pregnant women to the risk of infectious abortion".
The front page of this week's Farmers Guardian is devoted to the "fallen stock shambles". It pictures an Anglesey farmer burying a dead sheep in defiance of the law, so that Easter holidaymakers are not exposed to the "filth and stench" from rotting carcasses.
But the farmers' crisis is only part of the disaster brought about by this regulation, which was introduced by Brussels in 2002 in hysterical over-reaction to fears of BSE and foot and mouth. In 2003, when the ban on landfilling any "animal by-product" was due to come into force, it became clear this would be catastrophic for the retail trade, which every year must throw away hundreds of thousands of tons of meat and dairy products.
When Tesco and other firms pointed out that it would be impossible to separate all these foodstuffs from their packaging, which rendering plants cannot take, their clout was sufficient for Brussels to give food retailers an exemption until December 31 2005. But with that date fast approaching, there is still no way large parts of the retail trade in Britain and across Europe can comply, as the British Retail Consortium last week explained to me. A BRC food scientist said that technology is being developed to split food from wrappings, but "we are still two or three years from having a workable system".
The regulation was so ill-drafted that the retail trade has had to wait months for a precise definition from the Commission of an "animal by-product". Does it, for instance, include "honey nut flakes", because they contain honey?
Last week Defra confirmed that the Commission is adamant that the law must come into force by December 31, even though it still has no idea what quantities of food this will involve. Those lambs rotting on Welsh farms are a fitting memorial to the obscene absurdity of a law which in every respect defies reason. (Sunday Telegraph March 27 2005