A recent survey carried out by the Irish Farmers Association into the costs of fallen animal collection has shown that Department of Agriculture rule changes have increased costs.
The rule changes which came into force this year limits the ability of fallen animal collectors bringing animals over 48 months to rendering plants outside a 125km zone.
Knackeries near the broader had in the past used rendering plants in Northern Ireland to avail of often cheaper rendering prices. Commenting on the results of the survey, IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart said , “Farmers in the northern half of the country are experiencing increases of up to €60/animal in some cases, while farmers in the south of the country where knackeries were not availing of rendering in Northern Ireland to the same extent have not experienced any cost increases”.
Bert Stewart said IFA have highlighted this concern to the Minister. These survey results prove the application of the anti-competitive 125/km maximum distance by the Department, in order to be eligible for the TSE collection and disposal subsidy for over 48 month old animals, has imposed an unacceptable and unnecessary cost burden on farmers. The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must immediately remove this measure and return vital competition to the area of fallen animal disposal.
The IFA Chairman said renderers took advantage of the conditions created by the Department of Agriculture and increased rendering charges to knackeries by up to €50/t while some knackeries in turn passed a multiple of this price increase back to farmers. “The entire area of fallen animal collection and disposal lacks real competition and must be reviewed in full by the Minister and a competitively-priced fallen animal collection system provided for all farmers. The viability of a direct delivery system must also be assessed as part of the review because the current system in operation for the majority of farmers is not acceptable.”
The IFA survey also highlights in areas where real competition exists between knackeries that farmers can avail of reduced collection rates, where this competition does not exist farmers are left with no choice but to pay what can only be described as unjustifiable collection charges.
Based on the survey information, collection rates ranges from €10 to €40 /head for calves; €40 to €95 /head for 6 to 12-month old animals; €40 to €120/head for 1 to 2 year old animals; and €45 to €150 for 2 to 4-year old animals. For over 48 month old animals, which are subsidised by the Department of Agriculture, collection charges range from €40 to €55/head. In areas where farmers can avail of direct delivery some knackeries offer reductions from the collected rate.
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Bert Stewart said it cannot be forgotten that knackeries avail of a significant income from the sale of hides and meat for kennels from the fallen animals, and this must be taken into account when establishing what a reasonable collection rate would be. When the actual rendering cost of individual animals is calculated it highlights a huge difference between what some knackeries are charging to collect animals and their costs of disposal before any value is attribute to the value of product salvaged.