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Fallen Stock

Volume 403: debated on Thursday 10 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government's policy towards the disposal of fallen stock. [107039]

The Government expect farmers to comply with the requirements of both European and National legislation and dispose of their fallen stock accordingly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice on biosecurity her Department received before imposing the new regulations on the disposal of fallen stock; and if she will make a statement. [107273]

The Department regulates outlets which deal with animal by-products, such as knackers yards, hunt kennels, rendering and incineration plants. Officials, including Vets from Animal Health and Welfare Directorate, are, therefore, involved in regular discussions with those industries and other interested parties.Animal By-Products legislation already controls the collection, storage and transportation of animal by-products, including animal carcases. It also requires records to be kept of any consignment of animal by-products to assist in the auditing and traceability of this material. General guidance on biosecurity is also available on the Defra website http:// www.defra.qov.uk/animalh/animindx.htm

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people in Somerset will be monitoring the disposal of fallen stock. [107340]

The Department has 19 veterinarians in the Somerset and Dorset region (16 permanent and 3 casual veterinarians) who can provide advice and guidance. However, responsibility for enforcement rests with the relevant local authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what rules there are for the disposal of fallen stock to dogs in rural areas; [107341](2) what help is going to be given to the disposal on farms of fallen stock. [107342]

Currently, the Animal By-Products Order 1999 permits the feeding of fallen stock to recognised packs of hounds, provided the meat is not from animals that are suspected of being diseased.The new EU Animal By-Products Regulation will permit hunt kennels to continue collecting fallen stock. However, they will be required to upgrade to knackers' yard standards, if they wish to do so, to collect fallen stock for the purposes of feeding to hounds.The collection and disposal industries advise that there is sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on burial which comes into effect from 1 May. However, we are aware that the new rules may increase the cost of disposal for some farmers and we have, since April of last year, been discussing setting up a national fallen stock collection and disposal service with farming unions and the disposal industry. Although progress has been made on the operation of a scheme we have not yet been able to reach an agreement on funding. Nevertheless, we are continuing our dialogue with the industry and plan to write shortly to individual farmers about the new rules when we will invite expressions of interest in a scheme partially funded by Government to which farmers can contribute by voluntary subscription.Guidance on the use of on-farm incineration as a means of disposal of fallen stock will be issued with this letter. Further information and copies of the relevant legislation, is available on the Defra website at the following address, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/ by-prods/default.htm., and from local Animal Health Offices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when her Department will issue and publish technical guidance on the use of on-farm incinerators as a legal alternative method of livestock disposal for fallen stock. [107695](2) what guidance her Department is giving to farmers about the Animal By-Products Regulation and the ban on on-farm burial; and how she will monitor their compliance. [107694]

We plan to write shortly to individual livestock farmers about the new rules. This will include guidance on the use of on-farm incineration as a means of disposal of fallen stock. Information is also available on the Defra website at the following address, http://www.defra.qov.uk/animalh/bv-prods/default.htm.. and from local Animal Health Offices. Compliance with the Regulation will be monitored through inspection and approval for on-farm incinerators, and in the case of fallen stock, by a record keeping requirement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to allow the use of biodigestion as a possible system for disposal of fallen stock; and whether she has promoted this method at EU level. [107697]

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the benefits of bio-digesters to handle fallen stock in specially designed concrete cylinders with a bacteria starter pack in terms of relative (a) environmental and (b) economic effectiveness; and if she will make a statement; [107130](2) what plans she has to permit bio-digestion of fallen stock in specially designed concrete cylinders on farms as an alternative to fallen stock collection after 30th April; and if she will make a statement; [107131](3) what representations she has made at European level to permit the bio-digestion of fallen stock in concrete cylinders on farms using a bacteria starter pack; and if she will make a statement. [107127]

Although no representations have been made at a European level, I have received some correspondence from UK companies on the biodigestion of fallen stock. The biodigestion of animal by-products is not a permitted disposal route. However, the EU Animal By-Products Regulation may allow for novel disposal methods, such as biodigestion, to be permitted after consultation of the appropriate scientific committee.

I understand that the EU Commission is considering for approval a number of alternative processes that have already been submitted by the industry. The Commission requires any submitted data to be structured in accordance with the 5 key components of the Framework prepared by the Commission's Scientific Steering Committee to assist the assessment of the risk from different options for the safe disposal or use of animal products. The key components cover:

the identification and characterisation of the risk materials;
the TSE risk reduction by the particular process;
the degree of risk containment;
the identification of interdependent processes; and
the intended end-use of the product.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to fund the collection of fallen stock from farms from 30 April; and if she will make a statement. [107124]

The collection and disposal industries advise that there is sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on burial which comes into effect from 1 May. However, we are aware that the new rules will increase the cost of disposal for some farmers and we have, since April of last year, been discussing setting up a national fallen stock collection and disposal service with the farming unions and the disposal industry. Although progress has been made on the operation of a scheme we have not yet been able to reach an agreement on funding. Nevertheless, we are continuing our dialogue with the industry and plan to write shortly to individual farmers about the new rules when we will invite expressions of interest in a scheme partially funded by Government to which farmers can contribute by voluntary subscription.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why guidelines have not been issued to farms regarding the proposed changes to the handling of fallen stock from 30 April; and if she will make a statement. [107125]

We plan to write shortly to individual farmers about the new rules, which will include guidance on the use of on-farm incineration as a means of disposal of fallen stock. Information on this matter, and copies of the relevant legislation, is available on the Defra website at the following address, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/by-prods/default.htm, and from local Animal Health Offices. General guidance on bio-security is also available on the Defra website at the following address, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/ animindx.htmThe EU Animal By-Products Regulation was originally proposed in November 2000 and interested parties have been consulted throughout negotiations on the draft Regulation.We have recently consulted on the draft legislation which will give effect to the controls in England. The consultation period closed on 21 March 2003. We are currently considering the responses, and preparing the final legislation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the extra cost of on-farm collection of fallen stock compared to on-farm burial; and if she will make a statement. [107128]

A regulatory impact assessment has been prepared as part of the consultation procedures for implementation of the Animal By-Products Regulation of which the ban on on-farm burial of fallen stock forms a part. The costs for any individual farmers will depend on the location of the farm and the kind of stock kept.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many confirmed cases there have been of a direct link between fallen stock burial on farm and damage to human or animal health since (a) 1997, (b) 1992; and (c) 1982; and if she will make a statement. [107129]

This information is not available and it would in any case be very hard to prove such a link. However, concerns about water pollution and the lack of scientific information available on how persistent the prions that cause diseases such as BSE and scrapie are in soil justify the EU's precautionary approach towards on-farm burial.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to permit the continued use of on-farm burial of fallen stock after 30 April to allow research into animal or human health risk associated with this method; and if she will make a statement. [107132]

We have no plans to permit the continued use of on-farm burial of fallen stock. The rules in the new EU Animal By-Products Regulation, regarding the disposal of fallen stock, have been influenced by a number of scientific opinions which take into account factors such as the potential for polluting water courses. Although the new rules will allow the continued use of animal carcases for "diagnostic, educational or research purposes", the Department would, as competent authority, require any research proposal and the site on which it was conducted to be approved.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the potential risk which fallen stock collection from farms presents to livestock and human health; and if she will make a statement. [107133]

No formal assessment has been made of the bio-security risks of a national carcase collection service. However, we would expect that only those collectors who follow agreed bio-security procedures would be allowed to participate in such a scheme.Animal By-Products legislation already controls the collection, storage and transportation of animal by-products, including animal carcases, it also requires records to be kept of any consignment of animal by-products to assist in the auditing and traceability of this material. General guidance on bio-security is also available on the Defra website:http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/animindx.htm.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the impact on the (a) farming industry and (b) countryside of the prohibition on on-farm burial of fallen stock. [106407](2) when she will give instructions to farmers on alternative means of disposal of fallen stock; and how these alternative schemes will be funded. [106197](3) what representations she has received on the setting up of the Government of a national collection and disposal scheme for fallen stock; and what financial assistance she will provide to the farming industry in the establishment of a scheme. [106403](4) when the Department will issue guidance to farmers on how to comply with the rules on on-farm burial which will be introduced on 30 April. [106405](5) when her Department will produce guidance.on

(a) the use of on-farm incinerators as a legal alternative method of disposal of fallen stock and (b) the possible use of a proportion of animals dying on-farm as carrion. [106404]

(6) what assessment she has made of the impact of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation on (a) the countryside and (b) farmers. [106226]

(7) what representations she has received on the introduction of biodigestion as an alternative system of disposal of fallen stock; and if she will make a statement. [106406]

A regulatory impact assessment has been prepared as part of the consultation procedures for implementation of the Animal By-products Regulation of which the ban on on-farm burial of fallen stock forms a part.The collection and disposal industries advise that there is sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on burial which comes into effect from 1 May. However, we are aware that the new rules will cause difficulties for some farmers and we have, since April of last year, been discussing with farmers and the disposal industry setting up a National fallen stock collection and disposal service. Although progress has been made on the operation of a scheme we have not yet been able to reach an agreement on funding. Nevertheless, we are continuing our dialogue with the industry and plan to write shortly to individual farmers about the new rules. The provision of further government funding is dependent upon some contribution being made by farmers themselves.We are currently drafting guidance on the use of on-farm incineration as a means of disposal of fallen stock and will issue this shortly.We have no current derogations from the EU Animal By-products Regulation to permit the feeding of fallen stock to necrophagous birds and this is not relevant to the UK situation.I have received some representations on the biodigestion of fallen stock which we are considering. This is not currently an approved disposal method and this will not change when the Animal By-product Regulation comes into effect from 1 May. Approval of any new disposal method would have to be made by the Commission.