The Department of Agriculture must initiate an investigation into rendering costs in light of the continued impasse regarding the collection of fallen animals, Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) animal health and welfare chair Hugh Farrell has said.

“The correct disposal of fallen animals is part of the Department of Agriculture’s remit, so turning a blind eye to the fact that this is not currently happening is just not good enough,” he said.

Farrell was responding to a statement issued by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue which sought to distance his Department from the problem.

Minister McConalogue advised the knackeries and rendering facilities to resolve their differences themselves and advised knackeries to deliver fallen animals to Northern Ireland for rendering in the meantime.

“The problem is that none of this advice goes any way towards finding a long-term workable system for the collection and rendering of fallen animals.

"The rendering plants have increased their charges and the knackeries are claiming they are unable to pay despite being in receipt of significant subvention from the Department of Agriculture.

“The solution therefore must be for Minister McConalogue to instruct the CCPC [Competition and Consumer Protection Commission] to conduct a thorough investigation into rendering cost levels. A fully open and transparent report needs to happen to shine a light on exactly what is going on there,” he said.

Burial licences

Farrell took exception to the advice given to farmers to apply for burial licences if they are unable to get dead animals removed from their farms.

“As it stands, farmers have been left with no choice but to bury animals on-farm.

“The Minister has said that burying on-farm will require a burial licence. This will degenerate into a bureaucratic nightmare and we do not want a scenario where farmers are stressed out looking for permission from local Department offices.

“I am calling on the Department of Agriculture to issue guidelines on best practice regarding on-farm burial. Looking for permission to bury an animal - when there is no alternative but to bury an animal - is a very roundabout way of doing things. "Instead, farmers need guidelines on the correct approach to burying on-farm and a window to then inform the relevant DVO,” he said.

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