Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Knackeries warn of big hike in fees

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Farmers could face a major hike in fallen animal charges if the Department of Agriculture presses ahead with new rules on meat sales from knackeries to dog owners, knackery agents have warned.

The rules effectively outlaw the meat trade between knackeries and greyhound owners and severely restrict the trade to other dog owners.

It is estimated that at least 75pc of the 18,000 greyhound pups reared in Ireland each year are fed meat sourced from the knackery system.

John Styles, owner of one of the largest knackeries in the country in Portlaoise, has warned that unless he can continue to sell meat from fallen animals, he will be forced to ramp up collection charges to farmers.

Farmers could face a €50-70/hd increase in the cost of disposing of a mature cow, one fallen animal collector has predicted.

If the hikes were implemented by all animal collectors, the move would cost farmers more than €2.5m next year.

The Department of Agriculture has written to all 40 licensed knackeries in the country to notify them of changes to the rules regarding meat from fallen animals being sold to dog owners.

Some 23 of the 40 licensed knackeries are currently approved to sell Category 2 and Category 3 animal by-products (ABP) or meat from fallen animals to holders of Meat Feeder Licences, the majority of whom are greyhound owners, hunt kennels and other dog owners.

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However, Department officials, in writing to the knackery agents, maintain that raw ABP can "represent a potential risk to both public and animal health, particularly the Category 2 material which is derived from fallen animals".

Under the new rules, the current Meat Feeder Licences will be phased out and replaced by two new categories. Only recognised kennels, shelters or packs of hounds registered with the Hunting Association of Ireland will be licensed to feed Category 2 material, while greyhound owners and owners of two or more hunting dogs will only be licensed to feed Category 3 material.

The Department of Agriculture intends to create a limited number of 'local authority collection centres' where Category 3 ABP from local abattoirs will be stored and distributed.

It remains unclear whether the material will be sold by abattoirs to the local authorities or whether the proceeds will be retained by the authorities. Dog meat currently sells for €3 per 10lb bag.

"It's small money but it makes a big difference to my business," insisted Mr Styles, who collects animals in Laois, Offaly, Tipperary, Wexford, Kildare and Westmeath.

Mr Styles maintained that unless he could salvage the meat and hide from knackered animals, he would be forced to charge farmers more to collect them.

"A cow that is costing the farmer €100 today would have to go up to €150 or €170," he maintained. "If I can't do anything with her except put her in the skip, I'll have to charge more."

Last year, more than 247,700 cattle were processed by knackery agents, with 53,903 of those aged over 48 months.

Irish Independent