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Farm fined for flouting cattle regulations

Published December 07, 2017 2.44pm


A County Durham farm has been ordered to pay £4,000 in fines after failing to comply with regulations regarding the transport and tagging of cattle.

High Hedley Hope Farm Ltd, based in Tow Law, County Durham was fined £4,000 having already agreed to pay legal costs of £4,306.46. The case was heard by magistrates sitting at Newton Aycliffe, after director Cyrus Armstrong pleaded guilty on behalf of the company. 

The prosecution was brought about after our officers visited High Hedley Hope Farm and discovered failures to register imported cattle with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) and to correctly re-tag cattle with the appropriate ear tags. 

The defendant was found to have imported cattle from Northern Ireland, but had failed to notify the BCMS within the required timeframe of 15 days. 

Furthermore, during the inspection of the farm, council officers found that calves on the premises did not have the appropriate ear tags, which identify age, sex and lineage. The defendant was advised of this, and given 28 days to apply new ear tags, which the company subsequently failed to do.  

Mitigation

In mitigation, the court heard how the cattle had been properly documented in Northern Ireland, and that the failure to notify English authorities was a mistake. The court also heard how administrative errors, due to a key staff member leaving the business, had led to the mistakes in both registering the cattle and adorning them with the appropriate ear-tags. 

Company director Cyrus Armstrong had previously said in an interview that he did not believe record-keeping was his responsibility, but the prosecution said the council took the view that it was his obligation to ensure the company was run correctly. 

The company was fined £2,000 for each offence, as well as a £170 victim surcharge, which was on top of the £4,306.46 the company had already agreed to pay us for legal costs. 

Joanne Waller, head of environment, health, and consumer protection, said: "This was a multi-agency investigation, carried out over a number of weeks, and so the legal costs for the defendant reflect this. Cattle tracing is an integral part of improving consumer confidence in British beef, and we can't afford to let administrative errors undermine that. 

"We hope that today's prosecution will encourage others to keep their books in proper order, and will hopefully re-assure consumers that animal products that go into the food chain are fully traceable and safe."
 

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