The Department of Agriculture should issue burial licences to farmers if the ongoing dispute between knackeries and rendering plants is not resolved immediately, a Fine Gael politician has said.

Senator John Cummins said anything less will “prolong the distress” farmers are facing as a result of having to keep fallen animals on their farms.

“If a resolution cannot be reached immediately, I would be calling for the Department to issue burial licences to farmers who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves with a fallen animal on their farm,” he said.

A joint statement released by Cummins and fellow Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard said dead animals are piling up on farms due to the dispute.

The situation has reached crisis point, the statement said, and called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to intervene.

Knackery services have been severely curtailed after rendering plants stopped taking category one material, forcing some knackeries to close and limiting the service of others.

‘Soul destroying’

Fallen animals being left on farms is “soul destroying” for farmers, Senator Lombard said.

“It’s a tough situation for farming families anyway when an animal is lost and you have to make that call to the knackery for collection. To think the animal can’t be collected is just not on. It’s soul destroying for the farmer.

“We encourage farmers to look after their well-being and mental health, yet two weeks before Christmas, we have this unacceptable situation where farmers are left with dead animals lying around,” he said.

Sinn Féin response

Sinn Féin’s agriculture spokesperson Deputy Claire Kerrane has also called on Minister McConalogue to intervene in the ongoing dispute around fallen animal collection.

Farmers are concerned about the serious safety risk of leaving fallen animals on their farm, said Kerrane.

“This is something that, in normal times, the Department would not take kindly to, and rightly so.

“It is unacceptable that farmers cannot currently rely on a collection service for fallen animals and if it were the other way around, the Department would not tolerate such delays from farmers in having collections carried out,” she added.

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