20 August 2001
Farmer fined over eartag offences

By FWi staff

A FARMER whose beef cattle were wiped out in a foot-and-mouth cull has admitted that he fiddled rules designed to prevent BSE entering the food chain.

Nigel Jackson, 54, of North Park Farm, Cowley, Gloucestershire was fined 5400 by Cheltenham magistrates and ordered him to 3170 costs.

Mr Jackson sent two bulls for slaughter wearing eartags from other animals, Cheltenham Magistrates Court was told on Monday (20 August).

He stood to receive 549 for one animal and 588 for the other. But the eartags were noticed by a meat hygiene inspector.

Mr Jackson admitted two charges under the Trade Descriptions Act of offering to supply the bulls when they had the wrong eartags.

He also admitted two charges of applying false descriptions to the beasts.

Mr Lester Maddrell, prosecuting, told the court the two bulls were sent to an abattoir near Langport, Somerset on 17 July last year.

“After the animals were slaughtered, the inspector became suspicious that they were too old and too large to be the beasts described on their passports.”

The inspector examined the animals teeth. A vet subsequently estimated that both beasts were over the 30-month limit and banned from the food chain.

The over 30-month rule, introduced because of BSE, is designed to keep animals more at risk from the disease from going for human consumption.

Mr Maddrell added that Jackson was interviewed by trading standards officers and admitted the animals had been wrongly identified.

“He said the animals had lost their eartags and he must have mixed them up when he replaced them,” said the prosecutor.

“However, he must have realised they were the wrong animals because they were the wrong breed and a different colour.

“It must have been immediately apparent.”

Miss Judith Kenny, defending, said Mr Jackson had made “genuine mistakes” and there was no evidence the animals were over 30 months old.

“He did not breed the animals and, of course, he did not have a close relationship with them,” she said. “Animals regularly lose their eartags.”

Miss Kenny said Mr Jackson did not get any subsidies for the two animals and added that identification was a major problem in agriculture.

Mr Jackson had admitted his error straight away and he was working hard to improve his record-keeping system, she added.

“He is a busy farmer and he did not notice the mistakes. The herdsman deals with the stock and the farmer deals with the paperwork.”

Mr Jackson was fined 1400 on each of the charges and ordered to pay 3170 costs, making a total bill of 8770.

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