Somerset farmer fined £10,000 for breaching bovine TB rules

A Somerset beef farmer has been ordered to pay over £10,000 in fines and costs after admitting breaking laws that help control the spread of bovine TB when moving his herd.

On Wednesday (November 4) Taunton Magistrates Court heard that over 10 months, Trevor Bolton, 68, of Brookfield Farm, Shepton Mallet, moved his 104-strong herd to a location that wasn’t permitted.

Bolton, who pleaded guilty to seven charges related to his cattle business, failed to notify the British Cattle Movement Service when the cattle were moved, didn’t mark a cattle passport with the date of movement and keeper details as required and did not have a ‘transporter authorisation’ certificate.

Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service began to investigate after it received information on the matter from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Officers found Bolton had purchased cattle from restricted markets and private farmers and taken them back to his holding, instead of an Approved Finishing Unit or abattoir in line with TB legal requirements.

Defence

Bolton accepted that he had made these movements and said that he had done so because of problems at the abattoir or for animal welfare reasons.

He added that he taken the cattle to a separate holding, away from his own premises, because he “didn’t want them mixing with his own animals because of the ‘disease risk’” – even though he had previously been advised of the requirements.

Bolton’s defence solicitor, Jeffrey Bannister, said that Bolton had not financially gained by making these movements and had been struggling with paperwork and time because of caring for his wife while trying to run a business.

Ruling

Magistrates said that Bolton had deliberately breached the regulations and was fined £1,000 on each of the seven offences which was reduced from £1,500 for each offence due to the guilty pleas.

He was also ordered to pay full costs of £3,350 and a victim surcharge of £170 totalling £10,520.

Marie Clements, team manager for Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, said: “Reducing the risk of animal health disease is one of our priorities.

The south-west has a particularly high prevalence of bovine TB and it has a huge economic impact both on farmers and the region in general.

“Farmers have been making great leaps to reduce the impact of bovine TB in recent years and any breaches of TB legislation risks undoing the good work already done and puts livelihoods at risk.”