Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and his officials must move immediately to ensure farmers have a facility to dispose of their fallen animals, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Commenting on the matter, IFA animal health chairman Pat Farrell said the continuation of the knackery protest is exposing the health of animals to an unacceptable level of risk.

Farrell said the Department of Agriculture requirements for farmers and knackeries is clear.

“Farmers are required to contact a collector within 24 hours of the death of the animal with collectors who are authorised by the Department of Agriculture to collect animals required to do so within 24 hours of the request for a collection being placed by the farmer,” he said.

The IFA chairman said farmers with fallen animals should in the first instance contact their local Department of Agriculture veterinary office to determine the options available in their area.

Farrell said structures in other EU countries have been investigated by the IFA and the details provided to the department which, he said, “clearly show the feasibility of a service that operates at a fraction of the cost of the fees being charged to Irish farmers to dispose of their fallen animals”.

Continuing, he said that the IFA has “always strongly rejected the anti-competitive and unnecessary” 125km maximum distance requirement imposed by the Department of Agriculture in the TSE Subsidy Scheme, which facilitates the testing of fallen bovine stock over 48-months by paying the rendering costs for these animals.

He added that his organisation fully supports some of the issues raised by knackeries, but said the fallen animal collection and disposal system “requires fundamental changes, some that cannot be provided in the short-term”.

He said it is not acceptable that farmers’ ability to comply with their legal obligations in the disposal of fallen animals “is dependent on commercial service provision, with effectively what is very limited department involvement”.

Farrell said the IFA has discussed the protest with the Department of Agriculture and individual knackeries and has “pointed out the very serious implications for farmers of these actions, while recognising some of the issues of concern for knackeries”.

The minister and his officials cannot allow this situation continue and must resolve the issue as a matter of urgency, the chairman concluded.