Dairy farmer fined thousands of pounds for breaching TB rules

A Welsh dairy farmer has been fined for chaotic record-keeping that breached bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and cattle identification regulations.

James Thomas, who owns premises known as Posty Uchaf in Abernant, Camarthenshire, pleaded guilty to multiple offences at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on 19 July.

Mr Thomas was fined £2,000 and a combined £2,200 for breaching bTB and cattle ID rules, respectively. He was also ordered to pay £14,000 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

See also: Current UK TB rules – and what’s coming next

Carmarthenshire Council, working with the Welsh government and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, brought the prosecution.

During a series of visits to Mr Thomas’s premises between February and October in 2017, a number of cattle were found to be missing either ear tags or passports, or were not on British Cattle Movement Service records.

It was also discovered that some animals had moved on to the premises without permission while the farm was under TB restrictions.

During TB testing, a number of animals registered to the holding were found to be missing.

In mitigation, the solicitor acting for Mr Thomas advised the court that employees helping run the farm at the time had failed to keep records up to date, although Mr Thomas apologised and accepted ultimate responsibility.

The court was also informed that Mr Thomas was on holiday when animals were moved on to the premises during its TB restriction.

Cllr Phillip Hughes, Carmarthenshire Council’s executive board member for public protection, said: “The council works closely alongside partner organisations to ensure full traceability of products from our farms, and this shows we will take action when poor record-keeping puts the health and welfare of animals at risk.

“Cattle identification isn’t just a legal requirement – it’s also essential to control the spread of animal disease in the event of an outbreak, while helping farmers improve production and profitability.

“The contribution of agricultural businesses to Carmarthenshire’s economy is hugely appreciated, but farmers must comply with legislation to maintain the county’s excellent reputation for high-quality produce.”