Leek farmer heavily fined for breaching livestock regulations

A STAFFORDSHIRE Moorlands livestock owner who illegally moved herds of cattle while his holding was under bovine tuberculosis restrictions has been ordered to pay over £34,000 in fines costs.

Mark Pickford, of Kniveden Farm, Mount Road, Leek, also breached important cattle ID rules by providing false information on Cattle Passports, misapplying an ear tag to an and failing to report the deaths in his herd.

He pleaded guilty to five offences under Cattle Identification Regulations and two under Tuberculosis (England) Order 2007 and was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court . He must now pay a fine of £14,332 and £20,000 costs.

The court heard how Pickford, 54, who traded as family business JD Pickford & Sons, illegally moved cattle to and from his holding whilst restrictions on the herd were in place due to it being infected with TB. The multiple offences took place between March 2014 and May 2015.

In addition, Pickford failed to register the deaths of 197 cattle to the Department for the environment food and rural affairs within seven days – a legal requirement under the same regulations. He had also given incorrect information while applying for 14 cattle passports between July 2010 and June 2014 and used an identification tag which had already been used on another animal.

Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins said: “This fortunately is a rare case as the vast majority of livestock owners in Staffordshire act responsibly and play an important part in the rural economy.

“Our trading standards team’s top priority is to support businesses and at times this includes investigating and as a last resort prosecuting those who act with total disregard for their industry and its hard earned safe and good food reputation.

“The failure to comply with disease control measures posed a significant risk to the effective control of bovine TB on this holding. Deliberate evasion of TB restriction measures would undoubtedly be carried out for selfish business purposes. He has put profit before animal welfare.

“This keeper’s blatant disregard of any attempt to control this disease which is having a devastating impact on the farming community. His actions are likely to have contributed to the duration and magnitude of this TB breakdown at a significant cost to the taxpayer.

“In addition, he increased risks to other livestock keepers and wildlife by ignoring important TB controls. We are therefore pleased this case has reached a successful conclusion thanks to the hard work and professionalism of our team together with Defra and a range of other partners.”