A farmer from Northumberland has been given a suspended prison sentence after failing to register cattle.
Last Thursday, Eric Anderson, of Budle Farm, Bamburgh, pleaded guilty to 14 offences under the Cattle Identification Regulations 2007. The case was brought after an animal health inspector visited his farm in November 2014 and found a number of cattle not registered with the British Cattle Movement Service.
Further checks found that an animal had not been identified with eartags and that births had not been recorded in Anderson’s cattle records.
On February 16 this year, Anderson was also stopped by an animal health inspector at Acklington Auction Market after he had transported two cattle, for which he did not have cattle passports, from Budle Farm to the market.
Anderson had previously appeared before Berwick magistrates in September 2014 when the court had imposed a suspended prison sentence for similar offences. Prosecutors also introduced a full list of convictions previously imposed on Anderson in 2009 and 2012, again for offences committed under the Cattle Identification Regulations.
Having considered the facts of the case and listened to mitigation put forward, the magistrates decided not to activate the suspended sentence in relation to the new offences committed during its operational period; instead imposing a financial penalty of £1,500.
However, the court then imposed an eight week custodial sentence for eight of those new offences to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months. There was also a requirement to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work.
For the remaining six offences committed outside of the operational period of the suspended sentence there was an absolute discharge.
Anderson was ordered to pay £150 legal costs, £790.80 investigation costs and a victim surcharge of £80. The financial penalty in total was £2,520.80.
The magistrates were also told that Anderson has agreed to sell his herd of cattle this year.
The prosecution was brought by Northumberland County Council’s public protection service. Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “As a rural council, we work with the farming community and support them whenever we can.
“However, these are serious offences and this case demonstrates that my officers will not hesitate to take firm action against those who deliberately disregard their legal duties and put safety at risk.
“It is particularly disappointing when a farmer continues to flout rules that are designed to protect the whole agricultural industry. It is not just his own livelihood he puts at risk, but the livelihoods of his neighbours and of farmers across the country.”
Philip Soderquest, head of public protection at Northumberland County Council, said: “The requirements to keep full and accurate records of all livestock and to notify details to the authorities were introduced following the devastating disease outbreaks of BSE in the 1990s and Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001.
“The system of traceability also provides general assurance for consumers of the provenance of beef and dairy products.”
Anyone seeking advice on animal health matters can contact the council’s Animal Health and Welfare team on 01670 623869.