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Fallen Stock

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects that the payment structure for the national collection scheme for the burying of fallen farm stock will be resolved; where the Government intend to dispose of such animals; and what powers there are to take action against farmers who leave fallen stock outside slaughterhouses in contravention of the regulations. [113256]

On 17 April we wrote to livestock farmers inviting them to express an interest in participating in a voluntary scheme based on subscription. This would be subsidised by Government digressively over a three year period.The initial closing date for responses was 6 May but has been extended to 28 May to give time for more response. We will be looking closely at the number of responses and the type/size of holdings which have expressed an interest in the scheme in order to assess whether it is likely to be viable and how, if deemed viable, the payment structure would be laid down.Assuming that the scheme is viable we anticipate that it will take a minimum of three months from the date when the decision is taken on whether to proceed to get the scheme operational.Where a carcase is dumped on private land, wherever possible the owner of the animal will be identified and held responsible. However, if ownership cannot be proven, responsibility for disposal rests with the landowner. The local authority, usually Trading Standards, has powers under the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to deal with

"accumulations or deposits which are prejudicial to health or a nuisance".

Appropriate action can subsequently be taken against the owner of the carcase.

Where a carcase is dumped elsewhere, including on public land or highways, and ownership of the carcase cannot be ascertained, responsibility for disposal rests with the local authority.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the removal of fallen stock from farms (a) following European legislation and (b) in the event that hunting should be banned. [111646]

[holding answer 7 May 2003]: New EU legislation, the Animal By-Products Regulation, applied in Member States from 1 May. Amongst other things the Regulation banned the routine on-farm burial and burning of animal carcases.Currently the permitted disposal routes for fallen stock include rendering, incineration, or sending the carcases to an approved knackers yards, hunt kennels or maggot farm.

The Regulation permits hunt kennels to continue collecting fallen stock. However, they will be required to upgrade to knackers yard standards if they wish to continue collecting fallen stock for the purposes of feeding to hounds.

We are aware that the ban on burial will increase the cost of disposing of fallen stock and have, since April 2002, 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.

A letter was sent out on 17 April to livestock farmers. This invites them to register an interest in participating in a subscription based scheme for the collection and disposal of fallen stock. This has the full backing of the Farming Unions.

The closing date for responses was 6 May. The future viability of the scheme will be dependent on the number of responses and the type/size of holdings which have expressed an interest in the scheme.

Assuming that the scheme is viable we anticipate that it will take a minimum of three months from the date when the decision is taken on whether to proceed to get the scheme operational.

A ban on hunting with hounds could have implications for the disposal and humane slaughter of fallen stock in some areas but by no means all. Those farmers who currently use the fallen stock service provided by hunts could be faced with additional costs if they use knackers yards or other off-farm disposal routes. However, there is a demand for this service. Most hunts already make a charge and there is no reason why such a service should not continue as a business opportunity should hunts be banned.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether advice on the disposal of fallen stock was made available to farmers in Worcestershire before Easter; and if she will place a copy of the advice in the Library. [112658]

On 17 April we wrote to livestock farmers, including those in Worcestershire, regarding the new rules on the disposal of fallen stock. A copy of the fallen stock letter is available in the Library.Information on the disposal of animal carcases is also available on the Defra website, at http:// www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bv-prods/default.htm., and from local Defra Animal Health Offices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on how Miss Isobel Vaughan Morgan of Warren Crest Farm, Finchampstead, a constituent, can dispose of fallen stock prior to the introduction of a national collection scheme. [113490]

[holding answer 15 May 2003]: Farmers will have to dispose of fallen stock in accordance with the Regulation, other than by burial or open burning. Currently the permitted disposal routes for fallen stock include rendering, incineration, or sending the carcases to approved knackers' yards, hunt kennels or maggot farms.

If the right hon. Member's constituent does not know who provides this service in their area they can ring the Fallen Stock helpline on 0845 8507070 for advice.

Additional information on the disposal of animal carcases is also available on the Defra website, at http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/by-prods/default.htm., and from local Defra Animal Health Offices.