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Bull by the horns

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County officials acting quickly to address dead animal issue

By The Staff

After nearly a month and a half without any kind of dead animal removal, the Marion County Fiscal Court has put all the pieces in place for the county to begin providing the service on its own.

This is a good thing for farmers and for the rest of the county.

Nation Brothers ceased picking up dead animals in 22 counties Feb. 27, including Marion County, because its operating costs were going up as a result of a Food and Drug Administration regulation intended to keep beef markets open in China, Japan and South Korea. The regulation, intended to combat the spread of mad cow disease, requires the brain and spine to be removed from any bovine animal 30 months or older. As a result, Nation Brothers would have had to pay an additional fee to the rendering plant for this procedure.

It may seem like a month and half was a long time to go without any kind of dead animal removal service (especially if one of your animals or your neighbor's animals died during that time), but we applaud the fiscal court for acting as fast as it could to address the situation.

The county did not have any of the equipment needed to transport dead animals legally Feb. 27, so we're pleased that local officials acted quickly to acquire the equipment and have it inspected by the state.

While this may seem like a small issue to some people, dead animal removal is important for a variety of reasons. Removing dead animals makes it less likely they will attract scavengers. The service also reduces the risk of diseases spreading to other animals and water and soil contamination.

Is this situation perfect? No, of course not.

Animal rendering is good because it means deceased animals could be used in an environmentally acceptable way.

Now that the county is providing the service itself, animal producers will be expected to pay a $20 fee for each site visit to remove dead animals. That's probably more than farmers want to pay (when Nation Brothers provided the service, farmers did not have to pay any fee), but it's also a reasonable amount to help the county defray its costs to transport and dispose of the animals at the Nelson County landfill.

Anyone who thinks the county hasn't done enough should ask themselves if they would want to live in a county where dead animals continued to pile up for a few more months.

This situation isn't perfect, but county officials in several departments worked together to resolve a problem created by circumstances they could not control.

Being proactive was the right call. We're impressed that the county took the bull by the horns, even if the bull was already dead.