Scotland in Key Position on Animal By Products Rules Redraft

08 September 2008
Alyn Smith MEP, Scotland's only full member on the European Parliament's prestigious Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has been appointed Rapporteur (draftsman) onthe important Opinion of the Agriculture Committee on the proposed Regulation on Health Rules for Animal By-Products.

The legislation, designed to update the older Regulation 1774/2002, deals with all forms of animal and farm waste not designed to enter either the human food or animal feed chain: it categorises the by-products based on risk, sets rules for their effective and safe processing and disposal, and sets up a system of monitoring and regulation of the whole process.

The Report is being authored by conservative German MEP Horst Schnellhardt in the Environment Committee. Smith is in pole position to ensure the new regulations are considerably more user friendly for Scotland's farmers, and invites comment and suggestions. His own priorities are to ensure as much value from the fifth quarter as possible, to relax the current rules on fallen stock and to encourage biofuels.

Smith said:

"This dossier is of vital importance to farmers across Scotland, and a prime example of the technical but essential work thatI amengaged in. I'm looking forward to working on this Opinion, and am eager to hear the views of a wide range of groups and individuals on how we can take this forward. I am ideally placed to ensure an effective regime for safe processing and disposal while seeking to avoid any unnecessary burdens on farmers.

"I think much of what the Commission proposes goes in the right direction. The options for what to do with Category 2 and 3 by-products are much more flexible than in the past, and I fully approve of the Commission's new powers to move individual by-products between the categories, to take account of developments in our knowledge of the safety of these products.

"However, there are a few areas where I will table amendments to take the Commission a bit further. Scottish farmers face high costs in order to transfer their by-products to registered processing or disposal plants.I will strengthen the derogation in Article 28, which allows for the burning or burial on farm of animals in remote areas: the definition of remote areas must be much greater than currently allowed for, and derogations must be allowed on grounds of disproportionate financial cost for the farmer. As long as the carcass shows no sign of disease,I seeno reason why farmers cannot dispose of their animals in a safe manner on their own farm. Article 29 must also be altered to speed up the process by which an individual or group can ask for a derogation.

"I will seek to revisit the way specific by-products are assigned to particular categories, and the allowable uses for products in the different categories. For example, there is a bio-diesel plant in Motherwell which also produces fertiliser, yet they have to destroy it as it is a Category 1 by-product! Common sense must prevail, I certainly know Scotland's farmers could use another source of fertiliser.

"I am concerned about the implications for the Scottish fishing industry of the inclusion of aquatic animals in this Regulation. Theoretically, this could mean that trawlers which catch fish which look diseased or anomalous would be forbidden from throwing them back into the sea, and would have to take them back to port for processing and disposal! Clearly this makes no sense and I will try to delete this provision.

"I would like to encourage the production of bio-energy as much as possible in this Regulation. Currently Category 2 and 3 wastes can be used in biogas plants, but energy generation is not prominent in the legislation. I think that we can improve on this, particularly with regard to tallow and catering waste. And of course, I want to see regional authorities involved as completely as possible in the implementation of this Regulation.

"I await submissions with anticipation, and depending upon the response I get from Scotland's farmers may organise a meeting to take on board all the views I can."