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Nation Bros., which has had the grim job of removing dead livestock from the county's farms for 24 years, is out of business, owner Gabe Nation said.
His family business is a casualty of an FDA regulation, set to go into effect this month, which requires the removal of brain and spinal cord tissues from cattle more than 30 months of age before they are rendered into pet or livestock feed. Nation said the rule would double his cost of doing business, and many of the 22 counties his company served could not meet the increase.
“I've battled as hard as I can battle it,” Nation said. “I've had about all I could take.”
Though the FDA granted a 60-day extension of the regulation two weeks ago, Nation said he does not expect the agency to rescind the rule. A spokesperson for Rep. Brett Guthrie's office said the same thing last week, that rescinding the regulation would be too “time consuming and complicated.”
Meanwhile, Shelby County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger said he would propose to fiscal court that the county go it alone and run its own program.
Rothenburger said he recommended to the court's finance committee on Monday a plan that would have the county buy a truck, hire two part-time drivers who would pick up dead livestock and take them to a landfill in Franklin County, just east of the Shelby County line.
Funding for the county's plan would come from money currently going to Nation Bros., which had a $40,000-a-year local contract, from $10,000 in Phase I Tobacco Settlement money and fees of $15 per head from the farmer. Under the Nation Bros. contract, farmers received the service free, but Rothenburger said he felt farmers would be willing to pay the $15 to have dead livestock removed from their farms.
“We felt that that was a reasonable cost to the farmer,” he said.
Without the service, farmers are faced with the prospect of burying the animals. State law requires animals be buried at least four-feet deep and covered with quicklime.
Rothenburger said the landfill would charge the county $37 per ton to take the dead animals. Nation Bros. had removed an average of four to five animals per day from local farms. The company also removed dead deer from county roads.
Rothenburger said the plan presented to the finance committee will save the county $15,000 to $20,000 per year over using another option, which would be the services of a contractor based in Gallatin County.
“We would also have the local control if we do our own,” Rothenburger said.
The court's finance committee approved Rothenburger's plan. He will take it to the full court at its next meeting, April 7 at 7 p.m. in the Stratton Center.
If the court approves the proposal, Rothenburger said he hopes to have the county program up and running at least by May 1.