WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Farmer ‘risked spread of disease’ by breaching TB testing rules
- Credit: Archant
A Suffolk farmer has been handed a suspended jail term for multiple animal health breaches, including failure to test cattle for tuberculosis or arrange collection of dead livestock.
Suffolk Trading Standards said Wayne Parker caused other farmers financial harm and risked the spread of disease through "flagrant breaches" of regulations in place to control the movement of animals.
He appeared before magistrates in Ipswich on Wednesday to admit eight breaches on farmland in the Mildenhall area between June 2018 and March 2019.
The most serious involved failure to complete post-movement tests on cattle brought from a 'high-risk' tuberculosis area of Wales to the low-risk Suffolk area.
A second involved unduly delaying transport of an animal by-product bin, containing the carcasses of six sheep and one calf, which reportedly went uncollected for three months.
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Local authority prosecutor Laura Austin described the bin as an open vessel, covered by a sheet of plastic, which did not fully contain the carcasses and risked the spread of disease by birds.
She told the court: "Trading Standards in Suffolk and Cambridge did their best to point him in the right direction.
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"He was given record books in order to register movements, while a fair trade officer gave him advice on the risk of tuberculosis.
"It's arguable he knew of these risks because, when interviewed, he said he had been involved in farming since the age of 16 and knew what he had to do."
A further seven breaches were denied by Parker and withdrawn from the prosecution.
Trading Standards said 18 other holdings had been deprived of up to £151,000 due to the loss of cattle passports, which he claimed he bought but never received.
Parker, 32, of Brinkley Road, Dullingham, said it was not his responsibility to test the cattle from Wales, but that he had commissioned his own veterinary tests before moving the cattle on.
He said he was unaware the cattle had not been tested before being delivered, or that the cows had come from a high-risk area.
He said no complaints were made about any failure to arrange collection of the storage bin.
Parker, who also denied receiving any help or advice from Trading Standards, said: "I didn't set out to do the job wrong."
He received 12 weeks' custody, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to cover the full £12,186.90 cost of the investigation and prosecution.
A Suffolk County Council Trading Standards spokesperson said: "There are many potential dangerous consequences to Mr Parker's actions, one of the most serious being the contravention of the Tuberculosis (England) Order 2014.
"Bovine Tuberculosis is contagious amongst cattle, other mammals and humans. It is a disease which is taken very seriously by us.
"His disregard for keeping the required records and movements of cattle has impacted other people in the supply chain. Eighteen other businesses had cattle passports withdrawn due to lack of traceability and, as a result, may suffer significant financial loss."
Councillor Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment and public protection at Suffolk County Council, said:
"Mr Parker's offences were extremely serious. We will continue to pursue such prosecutions in our duty to protect both human and animal health, and Suffolk's rural economy.
"His actions demanded an immediate and extensive response from our officers and many of our partner agencies. I thank those colleagues who have supported us from the Animal and Plant Health Agency, Environment Agency, Rural Payments Agency, British Cattle Movement Service and Cambridgeshire Trading Standards."
If you are concerned about the activities of a livestock keeper or the welfare of livestock you can report it, in confidence, by contacting the national Citizens Advice Helpline on 0808 223 1133.
If you suspect a case of bovine tuberculosis, you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.