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Court case shocks local farming community

 
Created on 19/04/2011 @ 16:06

 


A farmer who substituted a bovine TB Reactor by swapping its ear tags with another animal pleaded guilty to six specimen charges at Welshpool Magistrates Court.

Emrys Jones Evans, a partner in the business IG and GM Evans, of Pendugwum Farm, Llanfihangel, will now be sentenced by Mold Crown Court on May 12 after pleading guilty to six specimen charges and another 21 charges (TICs) relating to offences under the Fraud Act, Cattle Identification Regulations and Tuberculosis Regulations involving activities to his cattle and milk farm.

The prosecution, led by Powys County Council’s Trading Standards Service, follows on from an extremely complex investigation into farming practices at the north Powys farm in May 2010.

Matters came to light when it was alleged that a pedigree Holstein milking cow was identified as being infected with bovine TB during a test conducted by the Animal Health Agency had its identity swapped for another animal prior to its compulsory slaughter.

An officer who had attended the valuation of the pedigree animal, examined the slaughtered animal and was suspicious about its appearance as it was noticeably different than the pedigree animal presented and photographed for valuation purposes.

Trading Standards staff, accompanied by Environmental Health and Animal Health Officers, and Dyfed Powys Police exercised a warrant at the farm on 28 May 2010 and during the search, found the original TB reactor animal within the herd on the farm.  The animal had a new identity – its ear tags having been swapped – and it was immediately isolated and slaughtered later that evening.

Milk from the farm was also destroyed as a precautionary measure.

A full investigation commenced which led to Evans pleading guilty to offences including:

- interfering with ear tags of cattle;
- moving an inconclusive TB Reactor off the farm in May 2010 without the authority of a licence;
- failing to present all animals for a TB test;
- presenting animals at a valuation which were animals other than their true identity (passport);
- fraudulently trying to pass off an animal as a reactor when it was not.

During the investigation, DNA samples were taken from many cattle on the farm and analysed in an attempt to ascertain the identity of animals and the accuracy of their passport information. Many were found not to be the offspring of the animals they were supposed to be and so will be prevented from entering the food chain due to their identity mismatch.

Cllr Graham Brown, Board Member for Public Protection, said: “This is an extreme case within the farming community and the prosecution of this business should act as an important deterrent. Wales has embarked on a TB eradication programme and the rules governing TB are crucial in fighting the disease which costs the Welsh Assembly Government millions of pounds every year in compensation.

“I want to pay tribute to the officers within the Trading Standards Service who conducted a very complex case in an extremely professional manner. Assistance was provided also by the Wales Scambusters team to whom we are extremely grateful.”

Ken Yorston, the council’s Trading Standards Manager, said: “Farmers who try to obey the rules have nothing to fear and will get the support of all agencies involved in fighting this disease. Those who try to circumvent those rules, for whatever reason, can expect to be taken to task and the full weight of the law will be used to bring them to justice.

“The recent introduction of DNA sampling of all animals identified as reactors is a direct result of this type of fraudulent activity.”

The charges laid before Welshpool Magistrates Court included two other bovine animals which appeared suspicious when presented for slaughter at an abattoir in Cheshire in February. DNA analysis was used to confirm that these animals did not match their offspring and so were not the animals as described on the passports.

Officers from the council’s Trading Standards Services liaised closely with colleagues from the Food Standards Agency, the Welsh Assembly Government and Animal Health Agency throughout this investigation.
 
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