A recent spate of animal carcasses being dumped across Staffordshire has been blamed on red tape and the increasing costs of disposing of dead livestock by a farmers' union official.
David Morgan, from the National Farmers Union, said he did not condone the dumping of animals, but could understood the causes behind it.
The NFU's chairman of the regional livestock board was speaking after dead animals were found across Staffordshire with identity tags missing from their ears.
Four young calves were found in Chatcul Brook, near Eccleshall, and four more found in the River Penk, near Penkridge.
Several pig and and calf carcasses were also discovered on a country lane in Upper Leigh, while a sheep carcass was found dumped in Cotwalton, near Stone.
The head of social care and health at Staffordshire County Council said one farmer may be responsible for the dumpings.
Mr Morgan said changes in animal disposal regulations may have driven the individual to dispose of his animals illegally.
He said: "The reason for this is the growing cost of disposal. On-farm burial has not been allowed for three years. "And recent ground water regulations which are designed to prevent any discharge from getting into water sources have forced farmers to dispose of dead livestock off site."
The Government had started a national fallen stock scheme to help subsidise the process, Mr Morgan said.
However, he claimed funding for the scheme had been gradually reduced and farmers were facing increasing costs to dispose of livestock legally - which can cost up to #20 per animal.
Mr Morgan said: "Within a decent sized flock of sheep you can expect to lose five per cent a year.
"That can cost a farm with 100 sheep up to #100 a year. "With the increase in fuel costs pushing up collectors' fees, it's becoming prohibitively expensive to dispose of dead animals."
He said that farming experts were looking at alternatives to using collectors, such as the use of sealed chambers to dispose of sheep.
But Mr Morgan said the dumping of carcasses in Staffordshire was the first incident he had come across.
The union official also warned that dumping carcasses in water courses could harm animals which drink from the same source.
"No one can support that," he added. "It was a no-no even before farm burial was banned."
Staffordshire County Council's cabinet member for social care and health Coun Susan Woodward said: "This appears to be the work of someone with a totally irresponsible attitude to keeping animals.
"It is impossible to say how long these animals have been in the water and who may have come into close contact with them.
"It is alarming to think that children may have been playing near the bodies."
Council officials also said there had been a worrying upsurge of carcasses found in rural parts of the county over the last few weeks.
The local authority's animal health team leader, Tony Shore, said the livestock probably died of a common illness such as pneumonia.
Mr Shore said: "In order to control the spread of disease and safeguard human and animal health it is vital that livestock carcasses are disposed of responsibly."
Individuals prosecuted of illegally disposing of a carcass face a maximum #5,000 fine or six month imprisonment.
For information call 01785 277875.