Farnham: Farmer illegally slaughtered cattle and sold meat

Eric Moss

Eric Moss - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk farmer must pay out £116,000 after unlawfully slaughtering cattle and illegally selling meat across the county.

Eric Moss, a former member of the National Farmers’ Union’s livestock board, sold his meat products at farmers’ markets, and to hotels, pubs, and restaurants.

Following a long-running case brought by Suffolk Trading Standards officers Ipswich Crown Court yesterday ordered the 72-year-old, of Botany Farm, Farnham, near Saxmundham, to repay £83,000 as proceeds of his crimes.

Moss was also fined £15,000 after previously admitting not registering or recording his cattle movements, births, or deaths.

The offences took place between July 2007 and May 2009.

The nationally-recognised expert on Red Poll cattle must also pay a total of £18,000 in costs.

Moss had been unable to account for more than 100 of his cattle. This meant officers have been unable to trace where they were in the food chain.

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Sentencing Moss, Recorder Karim Khalil said: “I am sure that Mr Moss has sold illegally slaughtered and butchered Botany Farm beef to the public – this has been sold for cash via farmers’ markets, public houses and restaurants which sales have never been accounted for in Mr Moss’ accounts.”

Trading standards and environmental health officers were originally refused entry to Botany Farm by Moss.

While waiting for police to attend meat products were seen to be removed from the freezer.

It was subsequently discovered that beef lasagnes and other meat-based products had been sold at Woodbridge Country Market and fresh meat from the farm had also been sold at Woodbridge Farmers’ Market.

Moss, and his company ARP Farms Ltd, admitted failing to provide evidence for the movement of cattle between 1999 and 2009 when appearing before Lowestoft magistrates in 2011.

He had failed to register Red Poll cattle under strict regulations brought in following the outbreak of BSE in the 1990s.

During an inspection in May 2009, officers came across 93 unregistered cattle on Botany Farm. They also found that 94 “registered” cattle could not be traced and were no longer on the land.

When trading standards officers visited Botany Farm a maggot-infested carcass of a cow was found in a container which Moss claimed had been left there by a former employee who had tried to blackmail him.

Despite numerous requests, Moss could not provide records to indicate where his cattle had gone or to show the movement, births and deaths of all of his stock over a 10-year period.

After yesterday’s hearing councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection said: “This is a clear case of how important our intervention can be in keeping Suffolk people safe. By failing to provide the crucial records about the number of cattle, and their movement to and from the farm, Mr Moss has committed offences which could have serious consequences to public health.

“It is also a successful example of partnership working, and demonstrates the importance of the work that is undertaken to ensure meat is safe and can be traced to its farm of origin.”