Fayette County

FDA extends deadline for animal disposal rule

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given farmers breathing room before enforcing a new rule that would make it more complicated and expensive to dispose of cows that die on farms.

But a company that picked up large animals in Fayette and 21 other counties stopped those pickups at the end of February in anticipation of the new rule.

"It's really caused a lot of problems this month, especially here in Central Kentucky," said Dave Maples, executive vice president of the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association.

Large dead animals, including horses as well as cows, had been picked up at farms and taken to a rendering plant to be turned into animal food.

The new rule, designed to prevent the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, requires that the brains and spinal cords of cattle more than 30 months old be removed prior to rendering.

The rule had been scheduled to take effect April 27, but on Wednesday, that deadline was extended by 60 days.

Laura Knoth, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Farm Bureau, said the delay will give the bureau more time to educate farmers on other disposal methods and "to give the FDA more information on the hardship this would impose."

State Veterinarian Robert Stout said that while the delay provides short-term relief, "in the long term, it's not expected there will be a lot of change."

State laws and regulations say animals can be buried, burned in an incinerator, composted or taken to a renderer.

Burying large animals often is difficult because of bedrock just below the surface of the soil.

But, since pickups in Central Kentucky stopped, some farmers have been burying animals or taking them to landfills.