A U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation set to take effect in April will make disposing of livestock more difficult and could create risks of its own.

The new regulations, designed to protect the food supply from bovine spongiform encephalopathy-infected cattle, may stop some renderers from picking up dead cattle. FDA's rule will prohibit the use of brains and spinal cords of older cattle as ingredients in livestock feed and pet food, according to The Associated Press.

As a result, many farmers — especially now, with the economy in crisis — may simply bury dead cattle on their property or let them rot in the open, industry officials and regulators say.

"There will be some illegal disposal — animals that get dragged into the woods or into the back fields," says Gerald Smith Jr., president of Winchester, Va.-based Valley Proteins Inc., which operates 12 rendering plants in seven states but will no longer remove dead cattle from farms come February. He said the fee per animal would have to go from $85 to $200 to cover the additional expense, and "I don't think the farmers would be willing to pay."

According to the AP article, “Some of the rendering plants that grind up carcasses for use in feed have already announced they will stop accepting dead cattle from farms because it would be too costly to remove the banned organs. Other renderers are likely to raise the prices they charge farmers.”

Nearly 2 million head of beef and dairy cattle annually, or more than 40 percent of all those that die before they can be sent to slaughter, are rendered in the United States, according to government and industry estimates. The remaining carcasses are mostly buried.

Regulators estimate the new feed ban will reduce the number of cattle handled by rendering plants by 500,000 to 800,000 annually.

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