Agriculture MEP Delivers EU Fallen Stock Reform

24 April 2009
Alyn Smith MEP has today expressed his delight at the approval by MEPs in Strasbourg of new rules on fallen stock and animal by products (ABP) which will considerably relax the current rules, making life easier for Scots farmers and sweating further value from the "fifth quarter".

The package passed by a massive 391 votes to 3.

Smith was the Draftsman for the Agriculture Committee on the package, which was led by the Draftsman for the Environment Committee German Christian Democrat Horst Schnellhardt. The Schnellhardt Report provides a clear path for new technologies concerning on-farm temporary containment of fallen stock to be approved, in particular the research by Bangor University into biodigestors which can store fallen stock for months at a time and safely degrade the remains into waste. The new legislation thus promises to save farmers considerable time, effort and money.

The new animal by products legislation also provides valuable incentives for the conversion of such materials into biogas, with all ABP of Category 2 or below eligible for biogas plants. Furthermore, valuable by-products of the above process such as biodiesel will now be placed on the market without further restrictions, as the legislation clarifies the end point of the manufacturing chain. This will provide a valuable boost for Scottish manufacturers. The laws have also been made much more flexible and adaptable in response to new scientific evidence.

Speaking after the vote, Smith said:

"It is rather fitting that in one of our last pieces of business before we break for the elections in June we should approve a package of what I would call 'classic European Parliament' legislation.

"While I have immersed myself in this subject to a rather frightening extent, and can now give chapter and verse on the regulations concerning blood, bone, spinal columns, skin, hair, hooves and all manner of other by products, even at my most feverishly enthusiastic I recognise that this is unlikely to be a topic of conversation over a Friday night pint for many Scots this evening as I myself wend my weary way back from Strasbourg.

"Yet that should not disguise the fact that this package is a real step forward and is the culmination of a lot of hard work in which I can say hand on heart that Scotland's voice has been to the fore. It is good news for farmers, abattoirs and the biofuel and recycling sectors, so good news also for consumers and the rural economy as a whole as well as in the fight against climate change. There is nothing here to dislike, and while I am not necessarily looking for a ticker tape parade at Edinburgh airport this evening it is a shame that most EU citizens are not aware of the good work this European Parliament does on their behalf.

"The new rules in particular bring the fallen stock regs into sharper focus, with new derogations for remote areas and new technologies for on farm containment.While my only reservation is that I would have liked to see a wider set of criteria in the EU package, I have no doubt that the Scottish government under Richard Lochhead will push this flexibility to the very limit."

Highlights of the legislation are:

  • A clear path in Article 20 (Authorisation of new methods of use and disposal) for new methods of temporary containment of fallen stock on farm to be approved, such as the biodigestor being developed at Bangor University. This will reduce costs and save time for farmers.
  • New Article 5 which clarifies the end point of the manufacturing chain, beyond which products can be placed on the market without restrictions.
  • Category 2 material and below can be transformed into biogas. (Article 13, 14)
  • Scope in Article 7 for individual ABP to be moved between categories based on the latest scientific evidence.
  • The burning or burial on farm of bees and apiculture by products is now permitted. (Article 19)
  • Raw pet food is excluded from the Regulation if it is in retail shops designed to supply the consumer on the spot; or if the animal is slaughtered on farm for private consumption. (Article 2)
  • The "end products from the safe processing of biofuels derived from animal by-products" (The oleo-chemical process) will be able to be placed on the market without restrictions. This will be provided for in the implementation measures (Recital 19c and Articles 5 and 33 - Articles 34 to 36 cover safe sourcing and safe treatment)