§ Mr. Harris
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will outline the Government's response to the fourth report of the Agriculture Committee of 1990–91, House of Commons Paper No. 493, on the disposal of fallen livestock.
§ Mr. Gummer
The response, which is published today, acknowledges that the Committee and the Government are in agreement about the market forces which have led to the changed economic circumstances facing the livestock industry in disposing of carcase waste.
However, the Government do not agree that the traditional methods of disposal of fallen livestock have collapsed. Although there may be some problems in certain areas, knackers and hunt kennels continue generally to provide a service in disposing of large numbers of fallen stock.
The Government have taken action in a number of ways to help the industry, including the provision of advice to farmers on alternative and safe methods of disposal, measures to make it easier for those wishing to install incineration facilities, supporting research and assisting in the search for alternative uses for some rendered products and identifying the recycling of animal by-products as a priority area for European Community grants.
Although this range of assistance is being provided, the Government believe that it is fundamentally for the livestock sector, as with other industries, to find ways of properly handling its own waste. They do not, therefore, agree with the Committee's recommendation that subsidies should be given to renderers so that they can take knackers' waste free of charge. Subsidies of this sort would distort the economics of a whole range of disposal systems that are presently being used or are being explored, and the Government believe that the industry is in fact already successfully making the readjustments that are necessary to cope with the changed economic circumstances.