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New regulations handed down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has left local counties scrambling to revise programs for collection and disposal of livestock carcasses.
For years, Trimble County meat and dairy producers have relied on Nation Brothers of Shelbyville, Ky., which was under contract with Fiscal Court to pick up dead livestock on county farms.
Judge-Executive Randy Stevens, who raises cattle himself, said the regulations were designed to satisfy requirements for big beef producers to sell meat into Asian markets. He said that livestock rendering must include removal of the animal’s brain and spinal cord, to avoid any possibility of mad cow disease getting into foods made from carcasses for other animals.
He told the county magistrates in Monday’s regular court meeting that the county has to cancel it’s animal disposal contract with Nation Brothers of Shelbyville.
Stevens said many farmers who are angry about the situation have called him or stopped to see him, and many believe it was the county’s decision, solely, to end the contract. He said many frustrated farmers have threatened to dump carcasses at the courthouse.
“We’re at a loss right now, and it’s tough to answer the questions these farmers have,” he said. “It wasn’t our decision to end this program.”
Stevens said Nation Brothers was charging the county $840 month to pick up and haul away dead livestock. The company then sold the carcasses to rendering plants, which make other products from the carcasses, for profit.
“It was a bargain for us,” Stevens said, adding that he is working with officials in Henry and Oldham counties to determine a new system.
Stevens said Nation Brothers hauled 9 million pounds of bovine carcasses from a 22-county region annually.
Livestock can be taken to the county’s landfill, but requires 24-hour notice so that the carcasses can be buried according to regulations. Additionally, farmers need to contain the carcasses when transporting them. Burial is allowed on the farms, but there are specific regulations that Stevens is concerned some cattlemen won’t follow.
That would put the area’s water supply and public health at risk, Stevens said.