The issue of fallen animal charges was raised in the Dail yesterday. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney was asked if he planned to review his Department’s ruling in January 2014 which restricts knackeries from bringing fallen animals aged more than 48 months to a rendering plant outside a 125 km zone.

It has been reported that in some areas restricting fallen cattle aged more than 48 months to a 125 km zone is resulting in collaboration between knackeries in the area to fix the price due to a lack of competition.

Minister Coveney noted: “The operation of the subsidy scheme has been examined in my Department and a number of changes have been introduced. These include enhanced compliance provisions and putting some limits on the distance material can be carried while maintaining choice.”

He said this examination took into account a number of factors, including budgetary considerations; TSE testing requirements; animal by-product regulations; the need to maintain competition; and the need for an adequate collection and disposal infrastructure. The importance of having adequate rendering capacity especially in the event of a serious class A disease outbreak was given high priority in the examination of the scheme.

It is important to note that the rates payable under the scheme have not changed. The rendering and disposal costs of fallen cattle over 48 months in category 1 plants are fully covered by the scheme and the collection charge to the farmer is still capped at €54.03, including VAT. Bovines under 48 months are outside the remit of the subsidy scheme, and their collection and rendering is a matter for commercial arrangement.

The minister confirmed: “Since we introduced these changes farmers are telling me they are being charged more for the rendering of their animals.”

He stressed: “If the changes we made for all the right reasons are being abused by organisations operating rendering systems by increasing their charges, that is not acceptable and we will considering changing again and reverting to the previous system, which would not be good in terms of overall competition and availability for farmers.”

He concluded: “If there is evidence that that competition is not functioning and the opposite is happening, we need to review that. I have sent a very clear signal to the organisations concerned that it is not acceptable to have a significant price increase as a result of the changes here. We will review it unless that changes.”