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22 September 2016

Poor records cost Cumbrian Farmer £27,000

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On Wednesday 21 September 2016, Michael Dixon of WR & JE Dixon, Beech House, Hayton, Aspatria appeared in front of the Carlisle City Magistrates and admitted to a catalogue of record keeping failures which could have led to the spread of diseases such as bovine TB and BSE. The charges were brought by Cumbria County Council Legal Services on behalf of Cumbria Trading Standards following a detailed and lengthy investigation by Trading Standards officers into malpractice by the farming business.

Mr Dixon pleaded guilty to 12 specimen charges asking for a further 249 related offences to be taken in to consideration.

During the 3 year investigation, Cumbria Trading Standards found that Mr Dixon had failed to apply for cattle passports within the specified time scale laid down by legislation and had manipulated the dates of birth of calves born on the holding by up to eight months in order to get a passport for them.

This led to further investigations, which revealed that the farming business had failed to report the movements of cattle onto and off its holding. The business also failed to keep adequate records. It also came to light that cattle had been sold to unsuspecting farmers through local auction marts with a false date of birth rendering the animal worthless to the purchaser.

The Magistrates sentenced him for the 12 offences on summons and took account of the 249 other similar offences. The lay bench accepted he was negligent and was of previous good character. They viewed them as serious offences in terms of public safety, traceability and disease control.

For the Cattle Identification Regulation offences (Counts 1-7 & 9 & 10 on the Summons) he was fined £2,200 for each offence (£19,800).

For the Animal Health Act offences (Counts 11-13 on the Summons) he was fined £1,250 on each (£3,750).

Fines totalled £23,550 and the court awarded costs of £3,500, therefore fines and costs totalled £27,050.

Councillor Janet Willis, portfolio holder responsible for Trading Standards, said:

“The spread of disease can have a devastating impact on farmers and the rural economy. Although the fine may seem like a lot for one business, it is nothing compared to the potential cost to the local economy that Mr Dixon was risking through poor monitoring and recording practices. We recognise that the majority of farmers take their responsibilities seriously, but this sends a clear message to those who don’t, that Trading Standards will thoroughly investigate and prosecute when necessary.”

Aspatria farmer fined for failing to keep recoreds that could have led to the spread of diseases such as bovine TB and BSE.