Farmer fined thousands after 'chaotic record keeping'

The Welsh dairy farmer pleaded guilty to numerous offences including breaching TB regulations
The Welsh dairy farmer pleaded guilty to numerous offences including breaching TB regulations

A dairy farmer has been ordered to pay out more than £14,000 after he was found guilty of 'chaotic record keeping'.

Carmarthenshire farmer James Thomas was fined because he may have contributed to the spread of bovine TB on his premises.

All cattle are legally required to have animal passports and ear tags with a unique identification number that must be kept for life.

But during a series of visits to his premises between February and October in 2017, it was found many cattle at the farm were either missing ear tags or passports, or weren’t on British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) records.

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

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

Other animals produced were unregistered, with some having been moved on and off the premises without informing the BCMS.

Breaching TB regulations

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

Mr Thomas pleaded guilty to offences including breaching TB regulations, for which he was fined £2,000.

He was also fined a combined £2,200 for a number of offences in breach of cattle identification regulations.

In mitigation, the solicitor acting for Mr Thomas advised the court that other employees helping run the farm at the time had failed to keep records up to date.

However, the farmer apologised and accepted ultimate responsibility.

The court was also informed that Mr Thomas, who is looking to retire from farming, was away on holidays when animals were moved on to the premises during its tuberculosis restriction.

'Health and welfare at risk'

Cllr Phillip Hughes, of Carmarthenshire Council, said that 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,” he said.

Mr Thomas was sentenced at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on July 19.