A Co. Down farmer has been convicted of 24 charges of failure to notify the movement of animals onto his holding or the birth of said animals and 21 charges of failure to notify the movement of animals off his holding.

Patrick McVerry was also convicted at Newry Magistrates Court on July 19, of one charge of using an ear tag to identify an animal that had already been used to identify another animal and nine charges of providing false information to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

McVerry pleaded guilty and was fined £2,750 plus a £15 offender levy.

The case arose, following a cattle identification inspection carried out by Officers from DAERA Welfare and Enforcement Branch.

Purpose behind identifying and registering animals

According to DAERA, there are detailed rules for identifying and registering animals.

These vary according to species and cover the need to use ear tags, herd registers, flock registers and movements documents.

A key element is the Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS) which is a database held by DAERA.

It holds information relating to cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and birds.

It is critical that the data held on APHIS is accurate because it is used to:

  • Operate disease control programmes, for example, TB; Brucellosis; Aujeszky’s Disease;
  • Rapidly trace movements in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Bluetongue;
  • Provide public health and trade assurances for the safety of meat and pork;
  • Ensure cross compliance requirements are fulfilled to meet the requirement of Single Farm Payments (SFP).