Consultation announced over how to deal with fallen stock


      A CONSULTATION on what can be done to deal with fallen stock on farms
in Scotland's remote areas is to be carried out by the Scottish Executive.

      But the closing date for the consultation will be 15 May, a fortnight
after the new European Union rules banning on-farm animal burial and burning
take effect on 1 May.

      It now seems that on-farm burial will be allowed to continue in
Scotland until 15 May and the consultation announcement by Ross Finnie,
minister for environment and rural development, does little to clarify
long-term confusion.

      On a UK scale, the number of animals that die by accident or injury or
soon after birth is estimated at 1.3 million adults and well over two
million lambs, calves and piglets. The estimate for Scotland is 60,000
cattle of all ages and more than 400,000 adult sheep.

      The EU rules introducing the ban on burial or open burning, officially
the EU Animal By-Products Regulation intended to reduce potential pollution
of waterways, seem to indicate that while governments should cover
collection costs and about 75 per cent of disposal costs, farmers must pay
the balance.

      While the farmers' unions protest about that, lack of any co-ordinated
UK policy and the refusal of Finnie to go it alone for Scotland, remote
areas - with no access to collection or rendering services - might be exempt
from the ban.

      Finnie said yesterday: "The EU regulation recognised the difficulties
which arise in disposing of fallen animals in some parts of Scotland.
Farmers in remote areas with no alternative means of disposal will find this
derogation very helpful, but it is important that it is applied correctly.
If not, it could be withdrawn by the European Commission."

      Meantime, the rule which will stay in force until 15 May is the Animal
By-Products Order 1999, which allows burial or open burning of small
quantities where access is difficult.

      John Kinnaird, NFU Scotland president, said: "We have known for a
while that Brussels will allow a derogation for remote areas and this will
be crucial to many parts of Scotland. We will be doing our own consultation
to come to a view on the precise details."

      "But the priority for the Executive must be to establish a
properly-funded collection and disposal service for the rest of Scotland."

      CHARLES Milne has been appointed to succeed Lesley Gardner as Scotland's chief veterinary officer.

      Milne is divisional veterinary manager for the state veterinary
service's south-west Scotland division and played a prominent part in
controlling the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic.

      Gardner, who was in charge of the Scottish operation which eradicated
FMD in Scotland, retires at the end of this month after almost 30 years with
the state service.